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Bergen man ignited gas line blast that leveled home, authorities charge

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST : A 50-year-old man ignited an explosion that destroyed his Oakland home, left him injured and brought dozens of emergency workers from throughout Bergen County to Sienna Way, authorities said.

Eugene M. Crawford deliberately ignited the 9 a.m. explosion “which completely destroyed the house,” said Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli. Authorities haven’t said whether it was a possible suicide attempt.

However, they acknowledged that the potential for a neighborhood catastrophe was there.

The blaze “was intentionally set in the basement by lighting common household combustibles [that] had been piled under the natural gas meter,” Molinelli said. “As the fire grew, the natural gas buildup caused the explosion.”

PHOTOS: Courtesy Oakland FD

As soon as it was clear that the house couldn’t be salvaged,  local firefighters began trying to protect others in the neighborhood.

Crawford, who lived alone, suffered smoke inhalation.

However, following several interviews after hospital officials cleared him, investigators charged Crawford with arson, Molinelli said.

He is being held on $200,000 bail in the Bergen County Jail, pending a first court appearance.

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