New Jersey

Crews Work to Clear Debris in Paterson as Residents Wait to Return Home

What to Know

  • Crews are working to remove debris from the scene of a gas explosion in Paterson so that investigators can study a gas main for clues
  • Dozens of families displaced in the blast are being taken care of by the Red Cross as they wait to return home
  • Two homes were destroyed in the gas explosion and another may have been demolished Tuesday night

Crews are working to clear debris and restore gas and electricity to a New Jersey neighborhood where a gas explosion leveled two homes and left dozens of people displaced Tuesday.

A large debris field was still scattered in Paterson on Wednesday morning. Until that debris is cleared, investigators won’t be able to get to the gas main that may provide answers as to what caused the blast.

Thirteen homes were damaged in the explosion in addition to the two that were completely destroyed. There were reports that a third home that was severely damaged was demolished Tuesday night.

Thirty-eight people were still out of a home Wednesday morning. They were being aided by the Red Cross, but it was unclear when they’d be able to return.

More than three dozen people were displaced in the Tuesday morning explosion. Paterson Fire Chief Michael Postorino said that no tenants or residents in surrounding homes were hurt in the blast that "flattened" 16 and 18 Goshen Avenue shortly before 9:24 a.m.

But 38 people were either displaced or left homeless by the blast, and 15 firefighters were evaluated at hospitals for ruptured ear drums and other minor injuries.

Postorino said the department got several calls from homeowners in the area who reported smelling gas as they got ready for the day at about 9 a.m.

When they arrived, crews heard hissing coming from the gas source and they worked quickly to clear 11 residents from the two homes and other dwellings throughout the area before the explosion. 

"They did what they were trained to do," he said. "They got everyone out."

Chopper 4 footage from after the blast showed utility crews and firefighters crowding around the the pile of rubble left behind from the blast. Windows, shards of wood and shingles were strewn about the block, covering cars, the sidewalk and street dozens of feet from the two homes.

The homes on either side of the blast also appear to have some damage. Postorino said that one of the homes had serious structural damage, and at least a dozen others nearby had everything from blown-out windows to damage from flying debris.

Postorino said that several firefighters sustained minor injuries battling the blaze after the blast.

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