Police dashcam captures NJ home explosion caused by gas leak

Posted Feb 26, 2015 by Megan Hamilton
A huge blast that was captured on a police dashcam ripped apart a home under renovation and shattered the quiet in a New Jersey neighborhood on Tuesday. Firefighters and gas company employees were already on the scene when the detonation occurred.
The calm before the ka-boom.
The calm before the ka-boom.
YouTube screen grab
They were in the process of evacuating homes, and trying to find the source of the leak when the blast hit, AutoBlog reports.
Fire Chief Jack Johnson was standing about 50 feet from the home in the Jersey shore neighborhood of Stafford Township, where residents had reported the heavy, rotten-egg odor of natural gas Tuesday morning,The Huffington Post reports.
Johnson and crew, along with police officers and gas company workers were searching house to house and asking people to evacuate as they tried to suss out the source of the leak. Suddenly an enormous fireball tore through the sky and a shock wave knocked people off their feet and pummeled their eardrums. Glass, huge chunks of wood and insulation rained down and strands of pink fiberglass adorned pine trees like macabre strands of cotton candy.
"It happened so quickly, the explosion, debris all around us coming from nowhere," Johnson said. "It knocked you off your feet, a shock wave, the concussion of it. It's something I never want to experience again."
In a split-second, 15 people were injured, the Post reports, two of them critically, and all of it was captured on a patrol car's dashboard camera.
Johnson, along with five other firefighters and two emergency medical service technicians all received concussion-like injuries, but fortunately all except one person had been treated and released from hospitals Tuesday night. Seven employees from the local gas company were injured, including two workers who were critically injured. They were within 20 feet of the house when it blew up shortly after 10:30 a.m.
Neighboring homes were also badly damaged, and so was a partially built home across the street. Homes located within several blocks of the area were also damaged, Stafford Police Captain Tom Dellane said.
"It looks like a war area," Max Von Ness, a plowing contractor who was near the scene of the explosion when it occurred. "It's just destruction. There's debris all over the place."
Von Ness was driving when he heard the explosion and felt the ground tremble.
"It was kind of like a mini-earthquake," he said. "You were thinking it was like a bomb."
A ruptured gas main is thought to be the cause of the blast, which occurred 90 minutes or so after police received reports of a strong smell of gas in the area,The Telegraph reports.
The home was completely demolished, Dellane said, adding "there's nothing left there but the basement foundation."
Approximately 300 homes were still without gas service Tuesday night, and some were also without electricity, the Post reports. A spokesman for New Jersey Natural Gas said that crews planned to work through the night in the hopes of restoring service by early Wednesday.