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Explosion That Killed Four in Buena Home Caused by Fireworks-Making Materials, Cops Say

by Jeff Goldman, NJ Advance Media for

This story is being republished under a special NJ News Commons content-sharing agreement related to COVID-19 coverage. Link to story:

The house fire and explosion that killed four people in Atlantic County earlier this month was ignited by some of the hundreds of pounds of chemicals and other materials found on the property that are used to manufacture commercial-grade fireworks, officials say.

The August 3. fire and the explosion that followed likely originated in the rear, left corner of the first floor of a two-story outbuilding on the 300 block of Northwest Boulevard in Buena, according to Franklin Township police in Gloucester County. Buena is patrolled by Franklin police.

Authorities couldn’t determine exactly which chemicals ignited.

“Due to the heavy fire damage, collapse of the structure, and excavation of the property during the search the Atlantic City Police Department Bomb Squad is unable to determine the type of explosives that caused this chain of events,” Franklin police said in a statement.

Among the materials found inside a vehicle on the property were 74 pounds of potassium nitrate, 15 pounds of aluminum powder, six pounds of magnesium, thee pounds each of calcium carbonate and strontium carbonate and about 12 pounds of homemade aerial shells. Investigators also found 50 pounds of dark metals they were unable to identify.

More materials were found in the outbuilding on the property, including 58 pounds of ammonium nitrate, 30 pounds of aluminum powder, 26 pounds of sodium salicylate, 25 pounds of potassium nitrate and 45 pounds apiece of ammonium perchlorate and potassium benzoate.

Two children killed in the fire have been identified by authorities who have declined to released their names. A 2-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl were initially missing following the explosion.

A 16-year-old girl and a toddler, also a girl, were removed from the house with injuries. Both were taken to St. Christopher’s Medical Center with severe burns. Franklin Police previously said the 16-year-old was in stable condition and the toddler was critical.

The identities of the two men killed in the incident are also pending, Franklin police said. They were 52 and 73.

Meanwhile, a has been established to help two children who live in a house next door—where the fire spread. The fire left that home uninhabitable.

“The house is now condemned due to water, smoke and fire damage throughout the inside and outside of the house,” the organizer said.