One person was killed and 15 people were injured in an apparent natural gas explosion that flattened a New Jersey home and forced the evacuation of several surrounding buildings on Wednesday, officials said.
Fire officials received a call about a blast just after 8 a.m. local time at a residence in the city of Elizabeth, about six miles southwest of Newark, Mayor Christian Bollwage told reporters.
First responders rescued 14 people from the home, which caught fire after the explosion on its second floor, and one man escaped on his own, Bollwage said.
All of the occupants were taken to area hospitals, two with critical injuries, Bollwage said.
"Some (occupants) were actually still sleeping at the time of the explosion," he said.
At least six buildings surrounding the home, which was reduced to rubble in the blast and fire, were evacuated. Several of those buildings were severely damaged in the incident and will be torn down, Bollwage said.
Employees of Elizabethtown Gas, which provides natural gas to the home, were on the scene inspecting gas lines, said company spokesman Duane Bourne. Bourne said no gas leaks were found. "We're still investigating," Bourne said.
Elizabethtown Gas is a subsidiary of AGL Resources Inc
(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by David Gregorio)