Hardyston Mayor Carl Miller assumed it was the army when a violent explosion prevented him from waking up on Tuesday night.
"My first thought is that we are not so far from Picatinny's arsenal and that they sometimes perform tests, but what would they do as late at night?" Said Miller after an explosion at 8 miles of his life. on Grumm Road in the northern part of the Township of Sussex County.
Miller said all the people he spoke to in Sussex County had said the same thing.
"People are in shock," said the mayor. "It's a crazy thing, not just for this city, but for any city. I have been here since 1985 and I do not remember anything like it. "
According to police chief Bret Alemy, the blast could be heard not only by the townspeople of 32 km 2, but also in neighboring municipalities and as far as the counties of Morris and Passaic.
Nobody was home when the six-year-old house exploded around 11:05 pm, although the blast was so intense that a nearby house as well as the Wallkill Valley Regional High School, located in the middle of nowhere. On the other side of the street, were damaged.
"The range is amazing, the house is completely destroyed," said Alemy.
Listen to NJ.com on Alexa or via a daily podcast
Two partially filled propane tanks on the property are "an area of interest" in the investigation, but it remains to be determined whether one or the other has caused the explosion said Sussex County Senior Deputy Attorney Greg Mueller. One was 30% full, the other 20%, added Mueller.
The high school facade, windows and doors have been damaged and it will be closed "until further assessments are made," said Alemy. Mueller said Wednesday afternoon that the school will also be closed Thursday.
The chief noted that debris from the house had landed hundreds of meters on a football field behind the school.
The police arrived a few minutes after a neighbor called 911, but the house had already disappeared.
"Thank God, there was no human being inside (of the house)," Miller said. "I do not see how anyone could have survived that."
The owner of the house had moved several days before the explosion, Mueller said.
Dave Hook, the principal of the company that built the house, said he was meeting the insurance company when he was contacted by phone Wednesday and that he was not there. was not available to comment.
The state police bomb team and the Sussex County Attorney's Office are taking part in the investigation alongside the Hardystron police.
Wallkill Valley Superintendent David Carr could not be reached immediately for comment.
Jeff Goldman can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.