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Authorities Investigating Cause Of Apparent House Explosion In Queens

Work Had Been Approved For The Home By City’s Rapid Repairs Program
Firefighters on the scene of a house fire in Queens on Wednesday, May 29, 2013. (credit: FDNY)

Firefighters on the scene of a house fire in Queens on Wednesday, May 29, 2013. (credit: FDNY)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A house that burst into flames and partially collapsed Wednesday in an area of Queens damaged by Superstorm Sandy had been approved for work under the city’s Rapid Repairs program.

City buildings department records show the house had been approved for a permit for a new water heater and gas furnace last week, The Wall Street Journal reported. It wasn’t clear if the work had started.

PHOTOS: Apparent Home Explosion In Queens

“I can’t confirm that work was done, that’s what our fire marshal will do,”  Deputy Assistant Fire Chief Bob Maynes said.

It took firefighters about an hour to bring the fire under control after an apparent explosion around 2 p.m. Wednesday at the home on 84th Street in Howard Beach.

Huge flames and heavy smoke could be seen pouring out of the roof and much of the home was destroyed. Neighbors said they heard a loud boom right before the fire broke out.

Firefighters on the scene of a house fire in Queens on Wednesday, May 29, 2013. (credit: CBS 2)

Firefighters on the scene of a house fire in Queens on Wednesday, May 29, 2013. (credit: CBS 2)

“All of a sudden I heard a loud explosion,” said neighbor John Dezago. “And then I looked and I watched the whole side of the house just blow down — like the bricks and everything just came flying down.”

Firefighters said the blaze was fueled by gas, but have not said how the fire started.

Theresa Pepitone, 49, was badly burned and is in critical condition at Jamaica Hospital.

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