One dead and one seriously injured in a ‘horrible’ explosion at a home in New Jersey

One man was killed and another was injured in an explosion at a home in South River, New Jersey, according to multiple media outlets.

The explosion leveled the home in the Continental Court area on Thursday, May 2, shortly after 7 p.m. local time, without warning, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office told News 12 New Jersey, NBC New York and PIX11 News.

Kevin Gilbert, 62, died in the explosion, while another man, who was not identified, was seriously injured and taken to a nearby hospital, according to media.

The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Home explosion in South River, New Jersey.

Robert Wasilewski

A photograph of the aftermath of the explosion showed pieces of the house scattered on a lawn with smoke rising from the rubble. Among the rubble, only parts of the roof of the two-story house and its windows could be distinguished.

“It was a horrible scene,” South River Mayor Peter Guindi told My Central Jersey. “The windows of the surrounding houses and cars were broken. The garage doors were pushed in. We didn’t know if anyone was in the house. All the houses were evacuated as soon as we got here.”

He told PIX11 that crews were working to plug a gas leak in the area, although the cause of the explosion has not been confirmed.

Neighbors in the area told NBC New York that the house belonged to a retired police officer who lived there with his wife. They said she had not been injured in the house explosion. Neighbors told NBC New York that they initially believed there was an earthquake.

“It was a very, very strong, very strong blow and it shook the whole house,” said a neighbor.

“We were watching TV, heard a massive explosion and ran outside to see it was our neighbor and his family’s house,” another neighbor told PIX11 News. “The house was devastated and my husband ran and tried to scream to see if anyone would respond.”

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“It was like a big sonic boom,” the neighbor added. “It was something he had never heard before. Everything shook. My sister was screaming and everyone was scared.”

Officials told News 12 New Jersey and My Central Jersey that nearby neighbors had been evacuated from the area as a precaution. Police also advised motorists and pedestrians to avoid the area so emergency crews could access the scene.

The cause of the explosion is being investigated by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and South River Police.