Body cam footage shows moment of harrowing Pompton Lakes house explosion

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When a house in Pompton Lakes exploded while firefighters were inside, officials were relieved that no one was killed.

“We were blessed,” borough fire official John Keating said at the time, after being asked how nobody died.

Police body camera footage recently obtained by The Record and NorthJersey.com through an Open Public Records Act request provides a clear look at the blast, showing a large fireball shoot out the rear of the house.

Body cam footage from three different Pompton Lakes officers shows not only the explosion, but what led up to it, as well as the chaotic aftermath.

A total of six firefighters were inside the Ramapo Avenue home when it exploded, officials said. According to Keating, they were inside for less than a minute before it exploded at 2:19 a.m. on Jan. 14. None of the firefighters suffered life-threatening injuries, though two were taken to the hospital to be treated for burns and were released.

The three cops whose body cameras captured the blast were standing on Riverdale Road, adjacent to the side of the house. At the beginning of the videos, smoke can be seen coming out of the dwelling, but no flames were visible. At the time of the explosion, one firefighter is seen standing on the back porch.

The three officers were chatting moments before the explosion suddenly happened, causing them to run from the blast. The force of the explosion blew the roof upwards. When the officers turned back toward the house, flames are seen inside the blown out home and on the grass surrounding it.

Photos taken later that morning show that much of the structure, including the roof eventually collapsed.

Right after the explosion, one of the officers is shown running around to the other side of the house, where the entire facing was blown out. That officer can be heard telling responding EMTs to approach the house "from the back."

On another of the officers body cams, two firefighters can be seen walking a third from the house after the explosion. Someone can be heard saying over a radio, "I need medics here."

The officer's footage cuts off when he and another officer are running a hose toward a fire hydrant on the other side of Ramapo Avenue.

When the firefighters arrived at the scene, a team of three entered the basement, where they believed the fire was, Keating said on Jan. 14. Another team of two went in behind them, along with the assistant chief.

“I thought we were going to have six fatalities, I really did,” Pompton Lakes Fire Chief Jason Ekkers said at the time. “They managed to climb out of the basement with compromised stairs. They all helped each other out, they came out one at a time, and we were at the back door, just feeding them out.”

Neighbor Kim Forsyth didn’t hear the boom because she sleeps with earplugs. But her two kids heard it and felt the house shake.

“My daughter was horrified and terrified,” Forsyth said. “She was having a heart attack, screaming. She couldn’t figure out what it was.”

Keating and police Chief Derek Clark did not immediately respond to an inquiry regarding the results of the investigation into the cause of the explosion.

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