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The area nearby the transformer explosion has a recent history of criminal activity.

An explosion and gunshot scare created a flurry of police activity on 41st Street between Pine and Baltimore streets early Wednesday morning.

The Division of Public Safety and the Philadelphia Police Department received multiple calls shortly after 7 a.m. from people in the area about a loud noise that some thought might be a gunshot or explosion. After arriving on the scene, Penn Police identified a transformer on the pole outside of a house on 41st Street that had exploded, according to Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush.

Linda Coughlin and Danny DeRitis were at work in the Apartments at Penn office at 416 S. 41st Street when they heard two loud noises that seemed to resemble gunshots and called the police. “It sounded liked a big TV fell off a stand,” DeRitis, the apartment landlord, said.

DeRitis accompanied police inside 416 S. 41st Street, where they knocked on tenants’ doors. When no tenant could explain the noise, they went back outside and realized the transformer across the street was “spewing grease” and appeared burnt, he said.

“We put the alert out because it could’ve been anything,” Rush said. “When it’s not clear what you’re responding to, you’re looking for everything ... Police went out and with an abundance of caution.”

A UPenn Alert was issued at 7:29 a.m. on Wednesday after several people in the area reported hearing loud noises. DPS issued another alert at 7:51 a.m. with the all-clear.

Transformers are metal cylinders attached to electrical poles that provide electricity for the area. A surge of electrical activity can overburden a transformer and cause it to explode. Penn Police has received no reports of electricity loss in the area, but the energy company PECO will be on scene to make repairs.

“Once we found the culprit, everybody nearby was notified so they knew they could go back to sleep or get to work,” Rush said.

The nearby area has a recent history of criminal activity. An armed robbery was reported on the same block on Feb. 8, and no arrest was made. In December, Penn Police stopped an assault on the 4100 block of Pine Street. The suspect was allegedly responsible for four previous assaults and was taken into custody.

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