Newark, DE- By MURALI BALAJI, The News Journal – A Newark neighborhood was rocked Friday afternoon by a powerful explosion that knocked a house off its foundation.
The 3:05 p.m. blast at 4 Elk Lane in Robscott Manor sparked a fire that took about 90 firefighters to contain, Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal Michael Chionchio said. Heavy smoke billowed and small fires within the house continued to burn through the evening.
There were no reported injuries.
Five neighboring homes were evacuated for more than an hour, officials said. The investigation was complicated by the instability of the house, which had to be destroyed so firefighters could put out the blaze, Chionchio said.
The cause of the explosion remains under investigation. Conectiv Power Delivery shut off gas to several nearby houses for safety.
The homeowners, who had recently moved in, were at work when the explosion occurred. Chionchio said they would either stay with relatives or be relocated temporarily by the Red Cross.
Firefighters from Aetna, Hose and Ladder Company of Newark, Christiana, Mill Creek, Claymont and Singerly of Elkton, Md., fought the blaze. The University of Delaware and New Castle County also provided emergency medical service.
Gene Niland, spokesman for Aetna Hose, Hook and Ladder, said the fire and smoke did not affect neighboring houses. He said a cat was rescued from the house and taken to Newark Veterinary Hospital for burns.
Witnesses described hearing a loud bang and said the house buckled at its foundation. Tim Duvall, 16, was standing outside when he saw the house explode.
“As soon as I turned around, I saw it,” he said. “Boom! The whole house just dropped and the fire started to spread.”
Several neighbors went to help but found the house unoccupied.