PATERSON, N.J. --Firefighters, gas officials and investigators are on the scene of an apparent house explosion in New Jersey Tuesday.
The incident happened on Goshen Street in Paterson around 9:25 a.m., and two homes were leveled while others were damaged and on fire. Authorities say 15 houses in a four-block radius suffered some sort of damage.
Neighbors and nearby employees reported a loud boom, followed by flames and heavy smoke.
"There was a very gassy smell," said Laura, who works in a nearby dental office. "I walked out and saw a whole bunch of people running."
Passaic County authorities confirmed that a gas leak was first reported at the address, and the fire department was on site for at least 20 minutes before the explosion.
The Paterson Fire Department had responded to a heavy odor of gas in the two-family home, and responders believed the leak was emanating from the basement. They could smell it and hear it hissing, and the odor was reportedly so strong that they did not go inside and immediately called for PSE&G.
Debris littered the street, and responders were combing through the smoldering rubble to search for any potential victims, even though it is believed all residents were evacuated prior to the explosion. No serious injuries were reported, but five firefighters were being evaluated.
PSE&G released the following statement:
"PSE&G received a call from the Paterson fire department at approximately 9:15 a.m. informing us about a strong order of gas inside 16 Goshen Street in Paterson. The fire department evacuated residents of 16 Goshen and adjacent homes, as a PSE&G crew and service technician were responding. We have shut off the gas mains and electric service. At this time we do not know the cause of the explosion but will work with local officials to fully investigate."
Passaic County Water reported possible discolored water in Paterson due to fire hydrant use, but officials assured Eyewitness News that it is safe to drink.