Explosion rocks abandoned home in New Jersey; man being questioned

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- An explosion rocked an abandoned home in New Jersey, and neighbors think someone stealing copper pipes might be to blame.

Half of a house on South Devine Street in Newark is in ashes - the other half is a mess, barely standing.

Felix Gallard knows he is fortunate to be alive - he lives next door to the house that blew up.

"I'm sitting watching football. All of a sudden, felt like the house shook. The TV flew off the stand and landed in my hands," says Gallard.

The explosion happened just before 5:30 on Sunday afternoon. Thankfully, the house was vacant at the time.

Neighbors believe a man was inside the empty dwelling, perhaps trying to steal pipes for scrap metal. Investigators are trying to determine whether the explosion was triggered when he lit a cigarette.

Adult softball players across the street chased the man down.

"He ran outside, tried to run out back...tried to escape. Jumped over two fences and landed on top of him," said Syid Perez.

The man was held until police arrived.

Eyewitness News is told one man was taken to the hospital for non-life threatening injuries. Police are now questioning him.

Next door neighbors say they are not sure when they will be allowed back after some minor damage on their homes.

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