BUENA, New Jersey (WPVI) — Crews are still searching for two individuals after a house explosion left two people dead and two children injured in Atlantic County, New Jersey.
It happened around 10:35 a.m. Thursday on the 300 block of Northwest Boulevard in the Landisville section of Buena.
Authorities say a 1-year-old girl and a 16-year-old girl were among those injured in the explosion. Both victims were flown to St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia.
The 1-year-old was listed as critical and the teen victim was listed as stable, according to police.
Authorities say a 2-year-old boy, a 3-year-old girl and two men ages 52 and 73 were also in the house. Franklin Township Police Chief Matthew DeCesari says they recovered two unidentified bodies and are searching the rubble for the final two.
DeCesari says this is being treated as a criminal case until a cause can be determined.
“We kind of err on the side of caution just in case it is – we can’t go backwards,” he said. “So at this point, we’re going to treat it as a criminal investigation until we determine whether it’s not or it is.”
Officials say they’re bringing in special equipment to go through what’s left of the house. They’ll likely be out here for a few days doing that work.
Video from Chopper 6 showed the home had been reduced to rubble and debris could also be seen around the yard.
DeCesari says neighbors are also feeling the impact of the explosion.
“There are at least two houses displaced at this time that I know of that were in very close proximity to where the blast was, and they had fire damage, windows knocked out, so not habitable at this point,” he said.
Neighbors said the explosion was so large that car alarms in the area started going off.
“The house shook so much that I thought it was in the house,” said Lydia Velazquez.
The explosion brought neighbors out to see what was going on.
“The nurse that was down the street from where I live, she was running down the street and I said, ‘Where are you going?’ And she says, ‘I’m going to see if I can help,'” Velazquez said.
Stunned neighbors were anxious for updates.
“Flames, fire. As soon as we pulled out of our driveway it was like a big gulf of fire,” said Jamie Henricksen.
“It’s sad. It’s sad. It’s right next to the church,” said Robin DeLaurentis-Rodriguez.
The Red Cross is assisting the displaced residents while others who had to evacuate already returned home.
Federal and local partners are assisting with the investigation.
DeCesari would not comment on what might have set off the explosion, saying they’ll be on scene investigating for days to come.