A 50-year-old man ignited an explosion under a gas meter that destroyed his Oakland home, left him injured and brought dozens of emergency workers from throughout Bergen County to Sienna Way, authorities said.

Eugene M. Crawford deliberately ignited the 9 a.m. explosion "which completely destroyed the house," said Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli.

Molinelli said the blaze "was intentionally set in the basement by lighting common household combustibles [that] had been piled under the natural gas meter. "As the fire grew, the natural gas buildup caused the explosion," the prosecutor said.

As soon as it was clear that the house couldn't be salvaged, local firefighters began trying to protect others in the neighborhood.


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