The City of Youngstown's Board of Control (BOC) will be meeting Thursday morning to discuss the hiring of a structural engineering company to inspect the Realty Tower building's safety.

According to the BOC meeting agenda for May 6, 2024, the Board is requested to make a payment of $7,500 to structural engineering company Barber & Hoffman based out of Cranberry Township in Pennsylvania.

City officials revealed that they were in the process of looking for a structural engineer during a press conference Monday afternoon.

During that conference, Youngstown Deputy Director of Public Works Chuck Shasho told reporters that the company will not be there in order to determine if the building can be saved or what repairs need to be made and will simply be there to determine its safety and structural integrity.

Shasho said it is up to the owner to find out if the building is salvageable and what repairs need to be made on it.

Day five of the Chase Bank coverage:

Nearly one week after the deadly explosion at the Realty Building in downtown Youngstown, Mayor Tito Brown held another press conference to address the tenants who were displaced following the explosion.

Mayor Brown says the city is working with the NTSB to find a structural engineer to determine the safety of the building. Youngstown Deputy Director of Public Works Chuck Shasho says this will be discussed at this week's Board of Control meeting.

Shasho says this structural engineer is simply here to determine the safety of the building, not determine if the building could be saved and what repairs are needed. Shasho says that is the building owner's responsibility.

Additionally, Mayor Brown announced that the city is working with United Way to help those affected by the explosion including the displaced Realty Tower residents, as well as the injured Chase Bank workers, as well as the family of Akil Drake, the Chase Bank employee who was killed in the blast.

Mayor Brown says the city is helping those who have been displaced by partnering with United Way in order to get these tenants their driver's licenses and birth certificates back, as well as provide financial assistance to those who need it.

An online portal is now up for anyone who wishes to donate. You can access that portal by clicking here.

Youngstown Fire Chief Barry Finley says the building, as well as the neighboring DoubleTree Hotel and Bistro 1907 restaurant are still closed. Fencing has been added to the perimeter for added safety.

Additionally, for Chase Bank customers who were affected by the sudden explosion of the downtown Youngstown branch, a mobile ATM for Chase Bank is in the works and will be set up in the Covelli Centre parking lot. 

There is no time frame for when this will be up and running, but the bank will announce when it's ready.

Two people are still being treated as a result of the explosion. Seven people were sent to St. Elizabeth's in the wake of the what's being called a natural gas explosion that happened Tuesday. One of those seven was in the ICU but has since been taken out of it and is in stable condition.

As of 7 p.m. Saturday, five people have been released, with two still being treated.

The two still in the hospital are in stable condition according to a statement from Mercy Health.

Meanwhile, the NTSB's investigation into the explosion has stalled over concerns over the building's structural integrity.

"Access is not currently possible by us nor by anyone until appropriate determinations are made regarding its safety," NTSB Board Member Thomas Chapman said. "That determination is outside our expertise and is in the hands of city, county and state authorities."

Day four of the Chase Bank coverage:

21 News has obtained even more video of the deadly explosion at the Realty Tower building in Downtown Youngstown.

New video obtained from surveillance camera footage from the building's 12th floor shows a fire alarm going off before the blast roars from the elevators.

Video taken prior to the explosion shows tenants narrowly escaping the blast including one female tenant with a baby in her hands. Video of the explosion along with pictures can be found below.



A woman narrowly escapes the building with her baby



Firefighters examine the aftermath of the blast

 The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will hold another press conference on the deadly explosion in the Realty Building in downtown Youngstown that housed a Chase Bank branch, as well as numerous apartments.

The press conference will be held Friday evening at 7:00 p.m.

This conference comes just one day after another press conference where NTSB officials revealed an inactive service line, which was pressurized and was cut by a third party, was discovered.

The press conference will be streamed live on and the 21 News App.

In addition, Mercy Health  provided another update to 21 News about the conditions of the seven patients in the hospital following the explosion.

As of 9:00 a.m. Friday, four patients have been treated and released and three more remain in the hospital in stable condition.

One person had previously been reported to be in critical condition, but a Mercy Health representative tells 21 News this person is now out of the ICU and is in stable condition.

Additionally, residents of the apartments housed on the upper floors of the building were originally told in a letter from Third Ward Councilwoman Samantha Turner they could go back into the building between 8:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. to gather their belongings.

First Ward Councilman Julius Oliver also told 21 News that council confirmed this plan with with Youngstown Fire Chief Barry Finley, but Finley was unsure if residents would have to sign waivers to go inside.

However, Chief Finley is now telling residents they are not allowed inside the building until further notice because the fire escape is completely collapsed. 

Finley provided no time frame for when these residents can go back inside, but fire and NTSB officials will check out the apartments for blast damage.

Day three of the Chase Bank Coverage:

The NTSB hosted a press conference regarding the deadly explosion at Chase Bank in Downtown Youngstown to discuss their safety investigation into the incident.

While the investigation is just beginning and a cause has not been determined yet, an inactive service line, which was pressurized and was cut by a third party, was discovered, said Thomas Chapman, a member of the NTSB.

A pressurized line means it had gas in it at the time it was cut.

Chapman said the NTSB will be on site investigating the explosion for the next week, a preliminary report will be released in 30 days.

"This is the first steps into a lengthy investigative process," said Thomas Chapman, a member of the NTSB. "The damage to the building is devastating."

The Youngstown City Board of Control, during its April 25 meeting, voted on making a payment to GreenHeart Companies, a Boardman company that manages commercial buildings, including Realty Tower, according to the business filing agent Bryan Ridder, for utility relocation work.

The city Board of Control voted to pay GreenHeart Businesses $140,133.00 to provide "all labor, tools, material, supervision and equipment required to complete all utility relocation in reference to Realty Tower Vault Infill." The funds were to be paid by the city from the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Grant as well as various State, Federal, and private funds.

We have reached out to Chuck Shasho, Deputy Director of Public Works, for information about the utility relocation by the city to this third-party company but have not heard back as of the publication of this story.

Day two of the Chase Bank coverage:

The body of 27-year-old Chase Bank employee Akil Drake was found in the rubble at around 1 a.m. Wednesday. An autopsy will be conducted at the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office.

Drake was a student at the Penn Hills School District in the Pittsburgh area. The district has released the following statement on his death:

"Earlier today, the Penn Hills administration learned that one of our former students, Akil Drake, tragically lost his life in an explosion in Youngstown, Ohio. Akil was a 2015 Penn Hills graduate and a student-athlete who excelled on the football field. The Penn Hills School District extends its deepest sympathies to Akil's family as well as the other individuals impacted by this tragic explosion. Akil will be missed by us all." 

Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown offered his condolences to the Drake family during Wednesday's news conference. 

The Youngstown Police Department released the following statement early Wednesday:

Officers from the Youngstown Police Department Detective Bureau were called out to assist at 47 E Federal with a missing person. After a brief investigation, it was determined that the missing person was an employee of Chase Bank where a natural gas explosion occurred today. It was also discovered that he was at work and was observed inside the building right before the blast. During their rescue efforts, the Youngstown Fire Department recovered that missing person, who was unfortunately deceased. During this tragic time, the Youngstown Police Department would like to extend its condolences to the family of the deceased and asks that the media respect their privacy.

Chase Bank has released a statement on the death of this employee:

"The JPMorgan Chase family mourns the loss of our colleague. Our hearts go out to their family as well as our injured employees, their families and other affected by this tragedy.  We will continue to work with local officials to support them." 

A letter was also sent to Chase Bank employees regarding Drake's death:

"Dear colleagues,

A gas explosion in a building with our branch in downtown Youngstown, Ohio, has taken the life of Relationship Banker Akil Drake. We are devastated by the news and extend our deepest condolences to Akil’s loved ones during this incredibly difficult time. Our thoughts are also with the Youngstown community, especially our employees seriously injured by the blast. We’re focused on supporting them and Akil’s family now and through their recovery.

Akil was a special member of the Chase team. Hired in February 2021 as an Associate Banker and promoted to Relationship Banker last year, he was loved by his team and customers. A Youngstown State University graduate, Akil was very active in the community and devoted much of his free time to volunteering and brainstorming ways to make Youngstown a better place.

Thank you for including our Youngstown teammates in your thoughts and prayers. Should you wish to share your care and condolences, visit today@jpmc."

Youngstown Fire Chief Barry Finley said the other woman who was missing was in the ER in Boardman, but registered under a different name, which is why she was initially unaccounted for.

21 News pressed Mercy Health for information on their admission policy to determine how someone could be checked in under the wrong name, but were told that they cannot answer due to patient privacy. We clarified we were asking about hospital policy, not any specific patient and did not receive any further reply. 

A statement has also been released on behalf of YO Properties 47 LLC, the company that owns the building:

“Everyone at YO Properties 47, LLC, the owner of the Realty Building, is shocked and deeply saddened by the loss of life and injuries resulting from the explosion that occurred. Their heartfelt sympathy and condolences are extended to the family of the young man who lost his life. YO Properties 47, LLC, in cooperation with the relevant governmental agencies, is investigating as to how and why this explosion happened. Appropriately, pending this investigation, YO Properties 47, LLC will not be making any further public statements.”

Another statement has been released by State Representative and former Youngstown Councilwoman Lauren McNally:

“An unexpected, fatal event can have a chilling impact on a community. I feel those fears and heartache and extend my deepest sympathies to the family of Akil Drake and the explosion survivors and their family members during this painful time. I’m grateful for our public safety personnel who are on the ground monitoring this situation, ensuring ongoing public welfare, and investigators who will provide us with the clarity needed for our efforts to eventually turn to prevention. I will be patient during that time and will urge others to do the same. My office is available for any concerns about the role of the state in this process.” 

Enbridge Gas Ohio released a statement following the Drake's identification:

Our hearts go out to the injured and the families of those who have been impacted, especially to the Drake family who lost a loved one. Our thoughts are with them at this time.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be taking the lead in this investigation and Enbridge Gas Ohio likely will be asked to assist as a party to the investigation. Federal regulations prohibit us from commenting on the investigation.

We would like to thank the City of Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown, Fire Chief Barry Finley, and all first responders for their quick action and leadership in responding to this event.

Our primary concern will continue to be the safety and well-being of everyone involved.

Crews remained on scene early Wednesday and major roads into downtown remain closed after the blast. People are being urged to stay away from the area. State fire marshals are currently on scene as of 11:00 a.m. Wednesday.

Market Street and Wick Avenue are closed downtown in both directions. Federal Street has also been shut down, from Phelps to Walnut.



Bars, restaurants, and other businesses downtown had to close Tuesday night. Some of them, including Oh Wow will remain closed on Wednesday.

Youngstown Police said the Stambaugh Building, which includes the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel, and the Realty Building will remain closed to the public until further notice.

In addition, the National Transportation Safety Board arrived on scene Wednesday night and will be holding a press conference Thursday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. 

In the meantime, NTSB officials tell 21 News the reason they are leading this investigation is because natural gas is believed to be involved and natural gas is considered transportation because it travels through a pipe system.

We're told by NTSB officials that they're looking for a cause, whether or not proper procedures were in place and what could have prevented the explosion from happening.

The NTSB tells us they are receiving assistance from Enbridge Gas Inc. and they will have more information at the 4:00 p.m. press conference, which will be streamed on and the 21 News app.

Youngstown Deputy Director of Public Works Chuck Shasho says Youngstown Cityscape's planting day will still be going on, but no activity will be done in the restricted areas.

Crews are conducting a structural assessment of the building while clearing debris. 

Security camera video of a neighboring business captured the explosion as it happened. You can watch that below.


Day one of Chase Bank Coverage:

Chase Bank occupies the first floor of the building, but the 13-story building also houses numerous apartments. 

In a statement given to 21 News, Angela Reighard, Associate of Regional Communications at JPMorgan Chase said, "We are in close contact with local officials to check on the safety of everyone in the Realty Building and area. After that, we'll work to determine what happened and to assess the damage."

The neighboring apartment building International Towers was evacuated for safety but its residents were let back in late Tuesday afternoon.  However, occupants in the Realty Building, which houses Chase Bank, are not being let in. 

Chief Finley says they will not be allowed back in the building until it is deemed safe. However, residents will be let back in on Friday, May 31 between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. to retrieve their belongings. Sign in starts at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

Residents will be accompanied by Youngstown firefighters during this time. Each resident will be scheduled in 30-minute intervals, so residents are asked to be quick and prioritize essential items only.

Everything you need to know about retrieving their belongings can be found here.

Shasho added that the only two buildings that are not to be occupied are the Realty Building itself and the DoubleTree hotel. 

Seven people were taken to the hospital according to a statement from Mercy Health. As of 6:30 p.m. Thursday, one person is still in critical condition, and three others are still in the hospital in stable condition. All others have been released. 

Chief Finley says the woman in critical condition is currently intubated on a ventilator undergoing surgical intensive care.

Finley said an evacuation order was issued for everyone 360 degrees around the building.

Gas has been shut off in the building. Enbridge Gas Ohio said they are unable to reconnect gas service until the building has been inspected and given all clear by a structural engineer. Gas service to others in the area is not impacted. 

The cause of the explosion is still not known, the State Fire Marshalls are leading the investigation into its cause, according to a statement from Enbridge Gas Ohio.

Youngstown State University issued a Penguin Alert revealing that University Police are monitoring the situation. However, the University itself is not impacted by the explosion at this time.

Video courtesy 680 Aerials.

All county buildings were closed early Tuesday as a precaution, including the Board of Elections which stopped early voting. The Youngstown City School Board canceled its Tuesday night meeting.

WRTA bus services were temporarily paused due to the situation, but buses are now back up and running as of 9:00 a.m. Wednesday.

This is a breaking news story. Stay connected online and on air for the latest updates