Paterson explosion destroys 2 houses, damages 15 others; gas leak reported before blast

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PATERSON, N.J. — Two houses were demolished and 15 others were damaged in an explosion that shook buildings and flung debris over a wide area in Paterson Tuesday morning.

The explosion hit just before 9:30 a.m. — 23 minutes after the first 911 calls of a possible gas leak at 16 Goshen St., said Paterson Fire Department Chief Michael Postorino.

Emergency responders heard the hiss of gas at the scene and were working to evacuate residents when the blast occurred.

Officials then accounted for all residents to ensure no one was seriously injured. As of 11 a.m., Postorino only knew of minor, non-life threatening injuries.

The explosion caused a "boom" and several homes to shake near the Paterson-Clifton border, one person tweeted. A "steady stream of sirens" was then heard.

Firefighters also had to extinguish a fire at the scene, video showed.

One neighbor said the blast was "like a dream," and another described the sound as "nothing like I ever heard before."

The houses — located on a residential road near Main Street, where several businesses are located — appeared decimated and flattened.

The explosion caused wood and other debris to scatter across parked vehicles and down the street for at least a block, and Postorino said 15 other homes were known to have been damaged.

The American Red Cross is assisting 37 people in nine families who were displaced by the explosion.

One neighbor told PIX11 that his son smelled gas Monday night, but was unable to locate its source. Officials are investigating the cause of the blast.

The Paterson scene echoed another home explosion that occurred in the Bronx exactly one week prior.

A firefighter — FDNY Battalion Chief Michael J. Fahy — was killed by flying debris in the blast at the possible marijuana grow house in Kingsbridge.

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