Update: Investigators believe some sort of gas build-up caused the blast but they continued to try and pinpoint the cause Tuesday.
A husband and wife died in an early morning explosion that obliterated a house, blasting debris as far as six houses away and rattling an entire South Jersey town, officials said.
The two victims were identified by neighbors as John Paladino, 73, and Carole Paladino, 72. No foul play is suspected, the prosecutor's office said in a statement.
U.S. & World
The blast that destroyed the home on the 300 block Oakwood Drive in Newfield, New Jersey was initially reported about 6:45 a.m. Saturday and could be felt throughout the town, neighbors said. The force of the explosion broke windows in nearby homes.
"I really thought it was an earthquake," Marlane Rambone said. "The bed lifted up and shifted."
Wood, insulation and siding fell from the sky as the entire area was filled with smoke following the blast and a mattress was stuck in a tree.
Firefighters responded to the home and doused the flames. Dogs were brought out to search through the rubble. Debris was strewn across the property.
"There's nothing left," Jason Brandt, a witness said. "I saw a bathroom sink sitting there but the house is gone."
Neighbors say John and Carole Paladino lived in the home for decades and raised their children there as well. They were friends with everyone on the street.
"It's scary," Audra Manasco, a neighbor, said. "It's a tragedy that you know, it's a small, quiet town. Nothing like this ever happens."
John Paladino was on the Newfield School Board and worked at a funeral home. Carole Paladino was a retired school nurse.
Neighbors say the couple had an appliance installed in their home Friday but investigators are not saying if that played a role in the blast. They don't suspect anything criminal at this point though they continue to investigate.
Gas is currently shut off in the neighborhood and several residents were not allowed in their homes as inspectors continue to make sure the area is safe.