PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Two homes were destroyed in Paterson, New Jersey after neighbors reported smelling gas in the area Tuesday morning.

Neighbors also reported hearing a hissing noise before the blast, which fire expert Glenn Corbett told CBS2 is indicative of a broken gas main.

PHOTOS: Paterson House Explosion | Videos

Corbett said it’s important for people to recognize the signs of gas leak.

“The most important thing is that natural gas does have an odorant called mercaptan and that’s the rotten egg smell that you smell when there’s a gas leak. It’s put in there specifically to warn people that there is a gas leak,” Corbett said. “Get out of the building first, that’s the most important thing. Get away from the area and evacuate the area until the firefighters and gas companies arrive to stabilize the situation. Evacuation and calling emergency response personnel would be the first two things to do.”

Corbett also suggestive further preventative measures.

“An old building, just like anything else as it gets older, potentially you might have problems with it. The best thing to do is call a licensed plumber in to do an inspection of the system, make sure that in fact the gas lines are still tight and that they’re not rusted through. We’ve had problems with that in the past, where some of the older metal gas lines, particularly cast iron, would actually corrode over a long period of time and develop small leaks. A licensed plumber is the person to call in to verify that the system is still intact and capable of serving the function it needs to serve.”

Corbett said these types of explosions are occurring with some regularity and he believes the infrastructure is to blame.

“I would imagine part of it has to do with the age of these systems and the fact that folks are making upgrades to buildings,” Corbett said. “A lot of these are older buildings and still have a lot of the original services from the gas company in them and certainly that’s a concern.”

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