As many as 15 people were injured when a natural gas explosion ripped through a house in Stafford Township, N.J., Tuesday morning.
New Jersey Natural Gas Co. told reporters that utility workers were responding to a report of a natural gas leak at the residence in the coastal township when the blast occurred around 10:30 a.m., destroying the house and forcing evacuations of the surrounding area.
According to the Asbury Park Press, seven of those injured in the blast were gas company workers, six were firefighters, and two were emergency management technicians.
Ocean County authorities said at least two workers received extensive injuries and were airlifted to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center’s trauma unit in Atlantic City. One of the workers received “extremely critical injuries” and required CPR at the scene, authorities said.
County officials evacuated at least 75 homes in the suburban neighborhood as gas company crew worked to repair the gas main break, closing off roads and diverting traffic around several blocks as a precaution. About 300 additional homes had their gas shut off until repairs to the pipeline could be made.
Video from a police cruiser parked near the scene before the explosion shows a fireball blast the house to pieces, showering the street with debris. The cause of the explosion remains under investigation.
“Natural gas explosions seem to be occurring with disturbing regularity in this country,” said watchdog group Natural Gas Watch.
Federal data shows that natural gas pipeline explosions are not uncommon and happen “nearly every other day, causing millions of dollars in property damage and several deaths each year,” CBS News reported.
Natural gas supplies a quarter of all U.S. energy needs through 2.1 million miles of pipeline. According to the Department of Transportation, an average of 27 serious natural gas incidents occur every year, resulting in an average of nine deaths, 45 injuries, and causing property damages amounting to nearly $6 million.