The powerful explosion that rocked South Paterson on Tuesday morning destroyed two homes and left five firefighters with minor injuries, said municipal officials at the scene.
Fire chief Michael Postorino said police received a 911 call at 9:01 a.m. reporting a gas leak at 16 Goshen Street. That house exploded at 9:24 a.m., said the chief. He said 16 and 18 Goshen Street have been leveled to the ground as a result of the explosion.
“It was a bad explosion,” said Jose Iglesias, who lives a block away on Pacific Street. He said he heard the explosion and rushed out of his home to see what had happened. With the incidents in New York and New Jersey late last month he thought it was a bomb.
“It was scary,” said Al Abdelaziz, who lives in South Paterson. “You just pray no one was injured,” he said Abdelaziz. He said he saw the police officers and firefighter knocking on the door to evacuate the neighborhood.
“Police officers came knocking on doors,” said Awni Abuhadba, former deputy mayor of Paterson, who lives in the neighborhood.
As many as 100 structures have sustained some damage as a result of the explosion, said Postorino. He said an additional 11 structures in the neighborhood sustained structural damage.
The chief said when firefighters responded to the gas leak sound of gas leak was audible. “They could hear the gas hissing out,” said the chief.
The sheer force of the explosion shattered windows of nearby properties, said councilman Andre Sayegh. He said no civilians were injured as a result of the explosion. He credited the residents for acting fast to report the gas leak.
“Nobody got hurt thank God,” said Abuhadba.
“We will be doing a windshield tour,” said mayor Jose “Joey” Torres. He said Community Improvement Division inspectors will check the properties around the explosion to ensure they are structurally sound.
“They’re in shock,” said the mayor of homeowners whose houses were damaged by the explosion.
Both homes were reduced to rubles. “There’s still some fire burning under the debris,” said the chief. Firefighters continued to blast water at the collapsed homes to suppress the blaze burning underneath.
Postorino said PSEG has turned off electricity and gas to the neighborhood. He said the two homes that have been leveled due to the gas line explosion were both 2 family dwelling.
11 people lived at the two homes, said the chief. He said the explosion is still under investigation.