has been linked to an apparent gas leak, according to Madison Fire Chief Lou DeRosa.
While the specific cause of the leak is still under investigation, DeRosa said that it is being considered accidental.
According to DeRosa, the explosion, which occurred at about 10 a.m., was so forceful that it lifted the corner of the home off of its foundation, leaving the home uninhabitable. DeRosa also said it was a working structure fire when members of his department arrived on the scene.
“The first floor sustained most of the natural fire damage, but there was structural damage from the explosion, and the house was lifted off of the foundation in one corner,” DeRosa said, “An exterior wall was pushed out about a foot and the chimney was knocked off the house.”
Madison resident Katelin Kostibos, who lives across the street from where the explosion took place, was outside of her home taking pictures of Hurricane Irene's impact when she heard the explosion.
“I was actually standing in my driveway when it happened; it was absolutely insane,” Kostibos said. “At first I thought something collapsed in their backyard.”
Kostibos, who immediately called 911, said the explosion could be felt from her home across the street.
“The whole house shook," she said, "and I basically watched the right side of the house push out. Smoke was just pouring out.”
Sharon Baumgartner and her son Thomas were the only two occupants of the home at the time of the fire, and were each transported to the burn unit at Saint Barnabas Medical Center. According to Kostibos, Susan Baumgartner was admitted and treated for first degree burns to her face and arms.
Due to a quick response time from the Madison Fire Department, no other homes were damaged in the blaze.
Kostibos also said that PSE&G was on the scene throughout the night locating and fixing the leak.
The fire department received mutual aid from surrounding municipalities, including Florham Park, Chatham Township and Morristown.