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15 hurt after natural gas explosion levels NJ home

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STAFFORD TOWNSHIP, N.J. (PIX11) -- Fifteen people were injured Tuesday morning when a suspected gas leak sparked an explosion at a New Jersey home, police said.

The house -- located at 59 Oak Ave. in Stafford Township, about 55 miles east of Philadelphia -- was evacuated before the blast, officials said.

Utility crews arrived at the scene shortly before 9 a.m. to work on an issue at the home after neighbors reported a strong gas smell, Stafford Township police Capt. Tom Dellane said. At about 10:30 a.m., the home burst into flames.

Seven of the injured people were workers from the gas company, six were firefighters and two others were emergency medical service technicians.  Many suffered concussion-like symptoms after the blast, but two utility workers were taken to a trauma center with critical injuries and another was taken to an Atlantic City hospital.

Route 9 was been closed in both directions in the area and homes in the neighborhood were evacuated while gas lines were shut down.  With temperatures in the single digits, roughly 300 homes have no gas service and some are without power as well.