BRENTWOOD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A mailbox and for sale sign were all that remained after an explosion Easter Sunday morning razed a house on Long Island. The house on 4th Street in Brentwood was vacant at the time, Jay Dow reports.
“All I saw was a stream of flames coming out, and it looked like, I mean literally like somebody dropped a bomb, and shrapnel, and pieces of house all over the place,” said resident Steward Cohen.
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Investigators have settled on a gas leak somewhere on the Brentwood property as the cause of the explosion, the force of which damaged several surrounding homes. However, according to the Suffolk County Police Department, what ignited the gas is still undetermined.
“I was sleeping while it was happening. And the window, I was sleeping downstairs and the window fell on my bed and I woke up,” recalled resident Kai Kiryaman.
“I was actually ready to walk out of my house, open the door maybe five inches, and got blown back into the bathroom,” said resident Brian Lawrence.
“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.
Even neighbors who were inside their homes felt the sheer force of the blast. Francisco Lopez was shell shocked and, with an apartment in shambles, left homeless.
“My baby. The windows here fell on his head,” he said.
Sylvester Oduro was in the shower when his wall cracked.
“I’m not sleeping here for now, but I’m trying to get myself together for now, so when it’s repaired, I can come back to my building,” he said.
It’s a scene of devastation where the house once stood. Flying debris and the force of the explosion itself severely damaged homes on both sides.
Carl Casimir lives next door and told CBS 2’s Mark Morgan his house was so badly damaged that it’s one of two termed unlivable by authorities.
“Right now we’re waiting for the insurance company to find us a place to stay, or we’ll go to a hotel. Most likely we’ll go to a hotel right now,” Casimir said.
Idaris Luciano is a family friend, and she was in Casimir’s house with her 4-year-old daughter when the explosion happened.
“I looked out the window. I saw a white cloud. There were things flying all over the place. I just grabbed my daughter and just got out of the house,” Luciano said.
The American Red Cross was supplying food, clothing, shelter, and if necessary, mental health counseling to 10 families who can’t stay. Fire marshals have already condemned three neighboring homes.
“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.
Over 20 people went to the hospital after the blast, including resident Stewart Cohen’s elderly father.
“He was in bed relaxing and the shelves, everything came down on him,” he said.
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.”
Did you witness the blast or see its aftermath? Leave a comment below…