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Weprin: Con Ed must reform after explosion

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City Councilman David Weprin (D−Hollis) joined the husband and children of a Floral Park woman who was killed in April when her home exploded to call on Con Edison to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident.

Last weekend, Weprin and his brother, state Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D−Little Neck), stood in the rain with the family of Ghanwattie Boodram, 40, who died when a blast reduced her home at 80−50 260th St. in Floral Park to rubble and killed her, to demand that the utility find the cause of the explosion and make any changes in its operations to ensure that a similar incident never happens again.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Ms. Boodram,” David Weprin said. “She was a wonderful daughter, sister, mother and wife. We are still in mourning.”

Weprin said he planned to host a Town Hall meeting at PS 115 this week to discuss the explosion and other matters and that Con Ed would be invited. The councilman also proposed renaming the section of 260th Street on which the Boodrams lived after the Guyanese−born mother of three.

“I’m humbled and honored by the support we have gotten from everyone,” said Dindial Boodram, the victim’s husband. “In my wife’s name, I’d like to see changes in protocol from Con Edison and all involved. I don’t want to see any more tragic deaths.”

The family of Vita and Stanley Barth, who lived next door to the blast, also called on the city to allow family members to enter the home, which was flattened during the explosion.

“I think, at this point in time, we should be able to gain access to our home,” said Larry Barth, one of the couple’s sons. “The most valuable things to us are the most worthless to others.”

He said there are family items, such as photos and religious texts, that date back several generations. Stanley Barth said the DOB would allow his family to return to the home after it make sure what was left of the property is safe.

“The roof was damaged so they’re reinforcing it so it doesn’t come down when we go into the house,” he said.

Dozens of firefighters, police and Con Ed workers responded to the blast, which occurred around 4:50 p.m. April 24.

Ghanwattie Boodram, who had moved to Woodside from Guyana in 1997 before settling in Floral Park in 2000, had been returning to her home from St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, where she worked as a nurse. Her sons, ages 7, 8 and 10, were at an after−school program when the blast took place.

The Barths, who had lived in their home for 51 years, had called Con Ed after their lights began flickering on and off and they smelled gas.

Spokesman Chris Olert said the utility had received the report of a gas leak on the block just after 3:30 p.m. and that, within a half−hour later, the blast occurred.

In a statement, the utility said its inspectors discovered a “dime−sized” hole in a two−inch gas main and some damaged electrical cable. But the utility and the city Fire Department are still investigating the incident.

“We’ve asked for an investigation, so we are not going to rush to judgment,” David Weprin said. “But we want to know all the facts.”

Ivan Pereira contributed to this article.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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