'Presence of explosive materials' caused deadly New Jersey home explosion: police

Authorities have released new information about the cause of an explosion at a Atlantic County home that killed four people earlier this month

Franklin Township Police said in a press release Tuesday that the cause has been determined to be due to the presence of ‘explosive materials’ inside the Buena Borough home. Gas utilities have been ruled out as having been a contributing factor in the blast.

Investigators say that the explosion most likely happened in the rear of the first floor of the two-story home. Due to the fire damage, structural collapse, and excavation of the property during an ensuing search, authorities say they were not able to determine the type of explosives that may have caused the explosion. 

Hundreds of pounds of explosive materials were found in a vehicle and two small buildings on the property, according to officials who say possessing the materials is legal, but mixing them is not.

Back on Aug. 3, around 10:30 a.m., police were dispatched to the 300 block of Northwest Boulevard for a report of a fire. An infant and 16-year-old girl were quickly rescued from the home and taken to nearby hospitals. 

Daniel Marandino says he felt the force inside his home, which sits around the corner. 

"I felt the floor vibrate and I came out, and I saw the smoke," Marandino said.

A 2-year-old boy, 3-year-old girl, and two men, ages 52 and 73, were all killed as a result of the explosion and fire, officials say. Police say the two children have been positively identified, but their names have not been released to the public due to their age.

Investigators also say the two male victims have not been identified, and further medical records are needed for positive identification.

Several houses on the block were affected by the blast, and even more homes were evacuated following the incident. Utilities were also shut off in the area temporarily. 

Police say they’ve responded to several reports of "loud booms" and fireworks in the neighborhood since April, but the complaints went nowhere, and officers were never directed to the home that later exploded. 

One neighbor was shocked to hear about the discovery of explosives.

"I had no clue to that was the extent of it to me it was a shocker," Jose Medina said. "If the explosion had gotten into the gas line, we all would have been gone, all these houses."

Police say the investigation is ongoing. A full list of the materials recovered from the vehicle, and outbuilding on the property were released by police on Tuesday. Authorities say they are consistent with materials used in the production of commercial grade fireworks. A full list can be found below. 

Items recovered from vehicle:

  • 74 lbs of Potassium Nitrate
  • 15 Ibs of Aluminum (Powder)
  • 8.5 Ibs of Aluminum (Powder-ALCOA)
  • 6 lbs of Magnesium
  • 3 lbs of 50/80 Mesh Molochite
  • 3 lbs of Calcium Carbonate
  • 3 lbs of Strontium Carbonate
  • 9.5 lbs of Parlon-Chlorinated Rubber
  • 1 lb of Silica 325 Mesh
  • 5.661 Ibs of 17 x 25 homemade aerial shells
  • 5.25 lbs of 7 x 4 homemade aerial shells
  • 1.125 lbs of commercial aerial shells
  • 50.5 lbs of unidentified dark metals

Items recovered from outbuilding:

  • 58 Ibs of Amonium Nitrate
  • 30 Ibs of Aluminum (Powder)
  • 26 Ibs of Sodium Salicylate
  • 25 lbs of Potassium Nitrate
  • 45 lbs of Amonium per chlorate
  • 45 Ibs of Potassium Benzoate
  • 10 lbs of Potassium per chlorate
  • 10 lbs of Barium Nitrate
  • 2 lbs of Barium Sulfate
  • 20 lbs of 50/80 Mesh Molochite
  • 2.5 lbs of Hexamethalyne Tetramine
  • 4 lbs of Indium Hydroxide
  • 1.8 lbs of M Series destructive device (1'x 4")
  • .520 Ibs of M Series destructive device (2.75"× 3")
  • 11.2 lbs of Salutes homemade Pyrotechnic
  • 10 feet of Quick Match
  • 50 feet of hobby fuse