4 dead, including 2 children, after house explosion in New Jersey
The investigation is being treated as a criminal one for now, police said.
Four people, including two young children, are dead after a house exploded in New Jersey on Thursday, authorities said.
A young child and a teenager also suffered burn injuries in the explosion, police said.
Police responded to reports of a house fire around 10:35 a.m. ET in the South Jersey town of Buena, according to Franklin Township Police Chief Matthew DeCesari. The incident was confirmed to have been an explosion, he said.
A 1-year-old girl and a 16-year-old girl were rescued from the property after two civilians pulled them from the fire, police said. Both were flown to St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia. The 1-year-old remains in critical condition, while the teenager is in stable condition, police said on Friday.
Four other people were in the house at the time of the explosion -- a 2.5-year-old boy, a 3.5-year-old girl, a 52-year-old man and a 73-year-old man, DeCesari said.
Three bodies were recovered from the rubble Thursday, and the fourth was located at the base of the demolished structure on Friday, police said.
No further details on the victims have been released by police, including their relationship.
Several houses in the immediate area sustained damage in the explosion; residents were evacuated and there were no additional injuries, DeCesari said.
The cause of the explosion remains under investigation, police said Friday.
The investigation is being deemed a criminal one at this early stage, DeCesari said.
"We are treating it as a criminal investigation at this point until we determine otherwise," DeCesari told reporters at a press briefing earlier on Thursday.
Multiple fire departments responded to the scene. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, FBI and New Jersey State Police are also assisting in the investigation, DeCesari said.
"All indications are this thing went up very fast and it was a lot to try to fight," DeCesari said of the fire.
Footage from the scene showed the home had been reduced to debris. A person who works nearby told Philadelphia ABC station WPVI he heard a loud "boom" and felt the explosion, then saw smoke coming from the house.
"This is just something that's very tragic," DeCesari said. "This is a small community. Everybody seems to know each other. And when you have an incident like this, it really hits everyone."
Police are asking the public to share any cellphone or Ring camera footage captured prior to or during the explosion.