House leveled by natural gas explosion in NJ (PHOTOS)

WESTVILLE, N.J. - September 14, 2012


It happened at about 1:30 p.m. Friday at 208 Chestnut Street in Westville.

The explosion ignited a fire which completely destroyed the home, which police say had been unoccupied for about two years and was recently placed on the market for sale.

Authorities say the explosion appears to have been caused by leaking natural gas. A crew from Public Service Electric and Gas (PSEG) was called in to the shut off service to the home, even as fire crews worked to douse the flames.

The fire was declared under control by 2:30 p.m., but smoldering debris prevented investigators from searching the wreckage immediately.

Police say neighbors initially reported seeing a man running from the house around the time of the explosion. It was later determined the man is a neighborhood resident and a member of a local fire company. Police say the man is not a suspect.

The New Jersey State Police Arson and Bomb Unit, the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office and the county Fire Marshal's Office are investigating.

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