PISCATAWAY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A man was left in critical condition, and a two-story home was razed to the ground, in a fiery house explosion in Piscataway, New Jersey early Sunday morning.
As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported, cellphone video captured the colossal flames that overtook the house at 85 Hopkinson Ave. after the home exploded around 4 a.m.
Authorities believe one man was inside the home when locals who live several blocks away describe hearing a thundering sound so loud it seemed like it was right in their backyard.
“It’s like a bomb exploded,” a woman named Nina tells 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern. “When you see in the movies how a bomb is exploding, that’s how the noise was.”
The man inside the house was rushed away on a stretcher. Neighbors said he was too weak to live on his own.
“I ran outside and saw my neighbor crawling out of the flames and he got into his truck,” said neighbor David Pirozzi. “He moved it away from the house, and then he got out of his truck and collapsed on his lawn.”
Mayor Brian Wahler said the man suffered second-degree burns.
The house is now down to its foundation, and debris spans the surrounding blocks.
“This is a very massive explosion, the whole house was blown off its foundation,” Mayor Brian Wahler said. “Just the fact that you look at the destruction in the background that anybody could have gotten out of this explosion alive. So the fact that the individual is alive is a miracle unto itself.”
Wahler said a major gas leak was believed to be to blame for the explosion.
Surveillance cameras captured the sky lit up twice from initial blasts which sparked the flames and took out electricity in a 10-block radius,
“The whole house shook. The whole street shook. Everything went out,” said neighbor Kareem Elasmar.
“The debris was flying everywhere and still on fire,” said neighbor Kelly Maxfield.
Approximately 1,900 customers were without power for several hours, but most were later restored.
The mayor said the fire touched onto nearby houses, but the main damage was contained to one lot, and its resident who suffered second-degree burns.
“If you look at the scope of the damage, it’s amazing someone actually lived through this,” Wahler said.
Fire and utility crews remained on scene sorting through the wreckage of the two-story home late Sunday. The mayor says crews will remain on scene throughout the day and upcoming week, cleaning up and ensuring the surrounding area is safe.