An explosion that completely demolished two homes and left 15 others damaged in Paterson, New Jersey, this morning is reported to have been caused by a gas leak. The explosion came just as emergency responders were investigating a gas leak in the area and about to evacuate the community.
Officials reported that the explosion occurred at 9:24 a.m. in a three-story home at 16 Goshen Street in Paterson. Authorities said that the explosion leveled two homes while a third home will have to be torn down, and the possibility exists that two others may be in similar circumstances once the debris has been cleared. According to the New York Daily, the blast from the explosion could be felt blocks away, but the most incredible fact to emerge from the incident is that no one was hurt as the explosions shook the New Jersey neighborhood.
Paterson Fire Chief Michael Postorino said that the aftermath did cause 15 firefighters to be taken to the hospital, with each injured due to the noise caused by the ear-ringing explosion. While the majority of the firefighters were only suffering from swelling in their ears, four of them had to be treated for ruptured eardrums. None of the residents suffered any form of injuries.
The firefighters had been in the midst of a rapid evacuation of the neighborhood after they responded to the reports of a gas leak, and undoubtedly this process is the reason why there was not a very different outcome of that early morning explosion. The firefighters responded to reports of a gas leak at 9 a.m., and according to Chief Postorino, those at the scene could literally hear the sound of the gas as it leaked. This is what let them know the severity of the leak and that an evacuation had to take place.
“They could hear the gas hissing out. We knew by the hissing we could hear, that obviously there was a high level of gas leak.”
The explosion that destroyed homes from 16 Goshen St. to 18 Goshen St. could be felt and seen throughout most of the neighborhood as rubble and other debris was sent flying into nearby homes and cars, causing even more damage. One resident who lives about five blocks away said that his home shook with the explosion, and combined with the smoke and dust afterward, he feared that it was another September 11 incident.
Local media house NJ.com also spoke to several neighbors from the area and reported that Reham Abdall, who only lives one house away from the destroyed homes, said that a police officer in her house was the sight she awoke to. That officer then grabbed her and pulled her outside by her shirt while telling her that her house was going to explode. All persons who were being evacuated due to the gas leak were told to turn off their cell phones for fear that the gas could be ignited by one of the phones.
The gas company responsible for servicing the area, PSE&G, were in the area when the explosion occurred but said that it had not yet determined the cause of the leak and explosion. They are working along with local officials to investigate the blast and Postorino said that their assistance “went a long way” when the evacuations were being carried out.
After the explosion, officials cordoned off several blocks while firefighters turned their hose on the remaining homes. Paterson Mayor Joey Torres reported that he had spoken to the owners of the homes most affected and they were a bit “shaken up.” The Red Cross was reportedly also on scene to lend assistance.
Alex Mendez, councilman at-large, reported that the debris from damaged buildings will all have to be completely removed after the third damaged home is demolished before Goshen Street can be reopened.
[Featured Image by Christophe Ena/AP Images]