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Officials Believe Gas Leak Sparked House Explosion On Long Island

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Suffolk County Home Explosion

A home exploded in Suffolk County on Sunday morning. Officials are still investigating to find the cause of the explosion. (Credit: Eric Raudies/Brentwood Fire Department)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – A home exploded on Long Island Sunday, littering the streets with wreckage.

The explosion happened in a single-family house located on Fourth Street off Brentwood Road in Brentwood at 10:44 a.m., and police said they believe the cause was a gas leak.

The fire marshal said there were no traumatic injuries, but did say that 21 people were taken to the hospital. The ambulance chief said the people suffered from respiratory problems, high blood pressure and anxiety.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports on the explosion

“I was sleeping downstairs in the basement and the window fell in my bed and I woke up,” neighbor Kai Kiryaman said.

“I was ready to walk out the house. I opened the door about 5 inches and got blown back into the bathroom,” another neighbor said.

Fortunately no one was living inside the home. It was up for sale, and currently under renovation.

Investigators think they know what happened.

“You obviously had a gas leak somewhere in the structure. Gas was filling up in the house and then you get an ignition source and it ignites the gas vapors,” said Det. Sgt. Edward Fitzgerald of the Suffolk County Police.

Arson Squad Detective Sgt. Ed Fitzgerald said they’ll be looking at whether the renovations that were being done in the house last week had anything to do with the blast.

“We’ll start excavating, delayering the debris, looking for the obvious things like appliances that should be there but aren’t there. After that, then we’ll start looking at the gas lines,” Fitzgerald said.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon spoke to neighbors

Sources said the explosion could be heard from seven miles away, and neighbor Star Benton heard it from down the street.

“I was sleeping and then I heard a big boom and some things feel off like I had my radio fell, I had pictures, my little stuffed animals fell. And I thought somebody crashed into right here,” she said.

Brentwood Home Explosion

The explosion caused windows to blow out in the houses adjacent to it. (Credit: Peter Haskell/WCBS 880)

Police and fire department officials used bomb-sniffing dogs to check the basement to make sure that it wasn’t a bomb. Officials also used thermal detecting devices to check for victims in the basement, but they found none.

The blast damaged several houses nearby, launching wood through windows and walls.

Stewart Cohen’s eldery father was hurt.

“He was in bed relaxing and the shelves, everything came down on him,” he told CBS 2’s Kristin Thorne.

He’s expected to be ok, along with the 20 other people who went to the hospital.

“We had some people with respiratory difficulties. We had some people with elevated blood pressure. We had some people who were just upset,” said first responder George Hauck.

Neighbor Ky Kariam lives across the street where his house suffered damage as well.

“Every window in the house is shattered,” he said.

Neighbor John Teuschler told the Newsday newspaper the explosion sounded like a bomb. He said it blew out the front windows of his house, ripped his front door off its hinges and caused everything on his walls to fall down.

About 100 firefighters from surrounding communities responded to the explosion.

Stewart Cohen lives across the street, and authorities evacuated him from his house as they continue to investigate.

“I got pieces of their house in the front of my house,” he said. “I know there’s damage to the foundation, damage to the walls, a lot of the sheetrock’s cracked.”

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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