Police released dashcam video of a gas explosion that leveled an Ocean County, New Jersey, home, injured 15 people, and shook homes in every direction Tuesday morning, including one of a young mother.
"My windows blew out of my house, and I dropped, and I covered my daughter, because she was next to me," said Stafford Township resident Melissa Lewis. "I stood up, and I heard them screaming outside, and there were people being taken to the ambulance."
Police received the initial call for an odor inspection in the Cedar Run neighborhood of the township near U.S. Route 9 around 8:55 a.m., about an hour and a half before the blast occurred, according to Stafford Township Police Capt. Tom Dellane.
Officers, firefighters and emergency crews who were dispatched to the neighborhood, quickly confirmed a gas leak, called in the New Jersey Natural Gas Company and evacuated 75 nearby homes.
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Gas company employees were working on finding the source of the leak diagonally across from Lewis' home on Oak Ave. when the blast occurred, completely destroying one home and damaging many others. Dashcam video from a Stafford Township police cruiser shows the blast as it happened as workers and firefighters were next to the house.
"The house has been disintegrated," said Stafford Township Mayor John Spodofora.
Seven gas workers were injured in the explosion, said NJ Natural Gas Spokesperson Mike Kinney. One suffered extremely critical injuries and required CPR at the scene. That man and another gas worker were medevaced to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center's Trauma Unit where they remained in critical condition, said Kinney.
Six firefighters also suffered minor injuries, most experiencing concussion-like symptoms. They were transported to Southern Ocean Medical Center. All but one were treated and released, said Stafford Twp. Volunteer Fire Chief Jack Johnson
Two EMTs were also taken to Southern with minor injuries and were released.
As SkyForce10 hovered over the scene, debris could be seen scattered all over the place as some trees in the area burned. Only the home's foundation remained.
"I saw pieces of house floating all over my yard," Lewis said. "The insulation was all over the place and you could see the ambulances and people running around and there were big flames coming from the house."
The blast could be felt up to one mile away, said officials.
Gas and electricity to nearly 300 homes were turned off and police urged people to avoid the area.
"We're working on a plan to restore that service, but that plan will take time," said Kinney.
How much time is unknown.
"The gas is kind of hanging in there," said Spodofora.
The Marlton Area Office of OSHA investigated exactly what caused the blast.
Officials announced NJ Natural Gas Company workers restored gas service to Oak Avenue around midnight but that doesn't mean the gas is back on in each home. Residents must be inside their home in order to get restored.
Stafford Police officers remained in the area throughout the night.