NEW JERSEY, BERGEN – In New Jersey, six volunteer firefighters were hurt, two seriously enough to require hospitalization for burn treatment, when a house exploded after a report of smoke.
Pompton Lakes Fire Chief Jason Ekkers: “I thought we were going to have six fatalities, I really did.” Even though the stairs leading up from the basement were damaged, they still made it up to the ground floor. When we were at the back door feeding them, everyone pitched in to help.
On the contrary, the firefighters, whose identities were withheld by fire authorities, were reported to be doing fine on Sunday. Two people with burns were taken to the hospital, while four were treated at the scene.
Pompton Lakes Fire Official John Keating said, “We are grateful that they got out of there in time.” They got medical attention for their burns, but they’ll need follow-up care.
Tom Garrett, the home’s owner, escaped the blast and fire unharmed. They tore down the house and all that’s left is a blackened shell.
Keating said that Garrett is staying with his sister in the area for the time being.
On Sunday morning, the neighborhood was filled with the stench of smoke as emergency vehicles and excavating machines blocked off a road. Firefighters and PSE&G employees gathered around the scene to learn more.
It is unclear at this time, according to Keating.
As reported by NorthJersey.com, part of the USA TODAY Network, 17-year-old Olivia Alvarez said she was looking out the window of her second-floor bedroom across the street when she saw smoke coming from the back of the house and “thought it was a car or something.” After that, she “just saw it all explode,” she said.
It seemed like the entire house rose off the ground and slammed back down. And she emphasized that the entire house had arrived safely.
When Shirley Jobes, a nearby resident, heard the explosion, she looked out the window and saw “pieces of the roof on fire up in the air and falling back down,” as she described it to NJ Advance Media for NJ.com.