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August 16, 2023

Firework materials found at South Jersey home that exploded, police say

Investigators discovered nearly 200 pounds of explosives in the aftermath of the Aug. 3 blast, which killed 4 people and injured 2 others

Materials used to make fireworks were uncovered on the property of the South Jersey home that exploded earlier this month, police said. 

The Aug. 3 home explosion on the 300 block of Northwest Boulevard killed four people and injured two children. A 1-year-old girl is being treated in the hospital for burns, and a 16-year-old girl is expected to be discharged soon, CBS Philadelphia reported.

The explosion was caused by explosive materials inside the house, according to the Franklin Township Police Department. It most likely occurred in the rear, left corner of the first floor. Gas utilities also may have contributed to the blast.  

Due to excessive fire damage and the collapse of the house, the Atlantic County Bomb Squad was unable to determine the specific materials that caused the explosion. 

Large amounts of explosive materials used to make commercial grade-fireworks were found in the outer buildings and inside a vehicle on the property. They included 70 pounds of potassium nitrate, 50 pounds of unidentified dark metals, 58 pounds of ammonium nitrate and multiple M-series explosives.

There is no timeline on potential charges related to the explosion, police said. 

The four people who were inside the home during the explosion – a 2-year-old boy, a 3-year-old girl and two men, ages 53 and 73 – all died. The two children who are hospitalized were outside the home at the time, investigators said. 

The Atlantic County Medical Examiner's Office conducted autopsies on the four bodies found inside the house. The office identified the bodies of the two children, whose names have not been released due to their ages. Though the names of the two men are known, further medical records are needed to identify their bodies.

The Franklin Township Police Department, which is based in Gloucester County but patrols Buena Borough, is investigating the explosion along with the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office. Franklin Township Police Chief Matthew DeCesari said the FBI, ATF and New Jersey State Police are assisting in the investigation. 

"This is something that's very tragic," DeCesari told the Inquirer shortly after the explosion. "It's a small community. Everybody seems to know each other. You know, when you have an incident like this, it really hits everyone."