More than a week after a Pottstown house explosion killed four children and an adult, there are no answers on the cause of the blast and little information on next steps for displaced residents.

Pottstown officials said Thursday that a two-day assessment of the area had identified houses that were unlivable, and the borough wouldn’t provide further public updates until the investigation is complete. State officials said the investigation might take a year or more to finish.

Borough officials, who have been releasing sparse information on the municipality’s website, declined to comment Friday, citing the investigation.

Meanwhile, residents — including two people who lived closest to the explosion and are displaced from their homes — have said that they’ve gotten little information. One resident has been living in a hotel. The other is living at his parents’ house, separated from his 4-year-old son.

The lack of information is frustrating, said Kenneth Cotton Jr., who lived two doors down from the explosion.

“The way I truly feel is I would like to know what’s going on. Because I lost everything, just like all these other families. ... How am I supposed to move forward? What’s my next step?” Cotton said Friday.

Around 8 p.m. May 26, neighbors described a thundering boom and said it felt as if a bomb had gone off. The explosion blew debris as far as a block away and blanketed the neighborhood with insulation material. For Cotton, the explosion caved in his roof and ceiling, filling bedrooms with debris.

Francine White, 67, Alana Wood, 13, Jeremiah White, 12, Nehemiah White, 10, and Tristan White, 8, were killed, Pottstown police said. Eugene White, 44, and Kristina Matuzsan, 32 — who are married — were critically injured.

Like Cotton, Tandra Rambert, who has lived in the house next to the explosion since 2008, just wants to know what’s going to happen to her home and what her next steps are. Rambert has been staying at a Residence Inn in Malvern, the room covered by her homeowner’s insurance. She and her 20-year-old son are living in one room while they wait for updates.

Her ceilings caved in and insulation material covers the home, she said. The windows were blown out and the floors buckled.

But aside from being told by a structural engineer Thursday that her house is unlivable, Rambert said she has not been given any information.

“No one’s taking the blame. ... There’s a lot of speculation and no one has said ‘yes this is our fault,’ ” she said.

A long investigation

Engineers from Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s Bureau of Investigation are working to determine the cause, alongside Pottstown officials, the commission said. The commission said it would take immediate action to address safety concerns, but investigations of this kind often take a year or longer.

The lack of details from officials appears to be following a standard script for responding to the public after a gas incident, which was articulated in 2016 by Paul Metro, the now-retired manager of pipeline safety for the PUC.

Metro, at a gas safety conference at Canandaigua, N.Y., advised investigators to not speculate in the media about a cause, and to not make comments except through trained spokespeople, according to a presentation posted online.

”If you absolutely have to give a statement, the statement should be, ‘We are investigating,’ ” Metro said in the presentation.

But Metro, who could not be directly reached for comment, also said that speculation is inevitable, and agencies need to reach out to the public.

Widespread speculation

Speculation as to the cause of the explosion started almost immediately. Several residents recalled smelling gas for years and wondered if the explosion was caused by a leak.

Peco Energy has said a chemical analysis of residues from the explosion did not implicate natural gas from its system.

Neither the occupied house on Hale Street where the explosion is believed to have originated nor a vacant adjoining twin house that was destroyed was connected to Peco’s natural gas mains, the utility said.

A propane tank seen at the site also caused speculation that it could have set off the blast. Propane distributor AmeriGas confirmed one of its tanks was at the home, and said it was cooperating with the investigation.

In his presentation, Metro suggested that officials set up a neighborhood location to answer questions, and to hold a public meeting within 36 hours to answer questions. Pottstown held two media briefings, one the night of the explosion and another the next afternoon.

“The public needs to have info,” Metro said.

‘In the dark’

For Jordan Strokovsky, an attorney representing seven residents including Rambert, Cotton, and Justin Gibbs, the owner of the house Cotton lived in and Cotton’s cousin, the lack of information for his clients is cause for concern.

“My clients are still in the dark,” said Strokovsky. “The victims in the community deserve answers a lot sooner than one year from now. And we hope to get answers sooner than later.”

Cotton is waiting to learn more about whether he can return his home, at least to salvage some of his belongings.

“Is my home totaled for good? How long am I going to be out of a house? ... And the paranoia of the whole situation. Do I even want to move back into that home if they fix it? Is it safe? Is the street going to blow up? ... There’s so many things that get your mind racing,” Cotton said.

Staff writer Andrew Maykuth contributed to this article.