Gas Suspected in NJ House Blast That Killed 1, Injured 15 – ABC News

An early morning house explosion in Elizabeth, N.J., today that left at least one person dead and at least 15 injured, including an 11-year-old, is being described as a “gas episode” by authorities.

The blast occurred around 8 a.m. on the second floor of a two-family duplex on Magnolia Avenue.

Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage told ABC station WABC that was the cause of the blast though an investigation continues.

A fire that eventually self-extinguished left two victims severely burned, including the 11-year-old, Bollwage said. Those victims were being treated at St. Barnabas Hospital’s burn unit, Bollwage said, also noting that one person had not yet been accounted for.

“We are going through the building in a secondary search looking for the possibly unaccounted-for person,” Bollwage said. “That is not to say that person is still in this building. That person could have self-evacuated. That person could be with friends or relatives.”

The remaining victims, whom Bollwage said were mostly sleeping in the rear of the building at the time of the explosion, were being treated at other area hospitals. None of the victims had been identified yet but Bollwage said that it appeared all of the victims were inside the two-family duplex that exploded.

Wayne Sheppard, who was sleeping in a second-floor apartment across the street from the house, said he woke up in a “nightmare.” His wife and 10-month-old baby were also in the apartment at the time, he said.

“She had just taken him out of his bedroom,” Sheppard told WABC. “His bedroom window is directly across from the house that exploded.”

Authorities said the home was legal, up to code and had been built in the last eight years.

“We don’t know if any current work was being done at the time,” Bollwage said. “It was a relatively new construction but we are not aware of any current work.”

At least two buildings would be demolished as well as a possible third, authorities said, noting that all of the buildings in the vicinity of the blast — a total of about seven — would be inspected.

Elizabeth Fire Chief Thomas McNamara said that the explosion had “pancaked” the second floor onto the first floor.

“Where the explosion came from, we are not sure,” McNamara said, adding that it’s going to take “quite a while to make sure the area is safe.”

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