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1 Dead, 5 Police Officers Among 8 Injured In Suspected Gas Explosion At Bronx Home

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A massive house fire in the Bronx turned deadly Tuesday.

The incident happened just before 11 a.m. at a home on Fox Street near Intervale Avenue in the Longwood section of the borough.

Neighbors say it sounded like a bomb went off.

As CBS2's Kevin Rincon reported, investigators are trying to figure out what happened that turned a three story home into smoldering debris.

At least one person is dead, and eight others injured. Five police officers were taken to Lincoln Hospital for smoke inhalation.

Watch: Mayor Eric Adams, Officials Give Briefing On Deadly Bronx Fire, Collapse

"I thought I was in an earthquake. I woke up. My closet was still shaking after the boom," said nearby resident Margie Otano.

The blast was felt for blocks, and almost immediately after, flames could be seen shooting out from the roof of the home. The roof eventually gave way and collapsed.

"It was just a mess. It was ugly, very ugly. Lot of fire, smoke," said neighbor Cesar Garcia.

Mayor Eric Adams said someone reported a smell of gas, and right now that is being looked at as a possible cause for this explosion. Their response was quick and prevented this tragedy from being worse.

"Clearly the action of FDNY and NYPD and residents, their quick response really allowed many who were part of this crisis not to in some way be seriously injured or to die, so I want to thank them," Adams said.

"There were two sisters from the fire building that were inside the building when it exploded, and our units saw them laying on the ground outside, and, working in conjunction with our EMS units, we took those people and we got them to a hospital quickly," FDNY Chief of Operations John Hodgens. "Unfortunately, one of them has succumbed to their injuries and has passed away."

The victim who died has been identified as 77-year-old Martha Dagbasta.

Neighbors say she lived in the building for years, and the loss is devastating for them.

Police say a 68-year-old woman and an 82-year-old woman are both in stable condition at Jacobi Hospital.

Dramatic bodycam video shows police entering the first floor of an apartment where an elderly woman was trapped in the living room underneath a sofa and rubble.

"This has been... It could have been worse," said Armando Garcia, the woman's nephew.

Garcia says his aunt, Yolanda Jiminez, was at home recovering from a recent heart attack when all of a sudden her neighbor frantically showed up.

"He had knocked on her door because he smelled gas and so he went in to ask her did she have a leak or something. She didn't smell it, but he said he smelled it, and then they sat down, they were talking, and when they were talking, I guess that is when the explosion happened," Garcia said.

Capt. Anthony Mascia and his officers frantically rescued Garcia's family member in the partially collapsed apartment.

"There was no hesitation. They ran right in," Mascia told CBS2's Cory James. "We are very lucky today to save a life."

"We saved lives today. Our actions saved lives," Adams said, praising first responders.

Bronx house explosion
The scene of a suspected gas explosion that killed at least one person and injured seven others in the Bronx. (CBS2)

Fire officials say they responded to the scene within four minutes of getting the 911 call. The FDNY says 200 of its first responders were trying to get the situation under control, and some homes couldn't be saved.

"The buildings directly adjacent to where the explosion was are completely destroyed. They'll have to be demolished," said FDNY Chief of Operations John Hodgens.

The gas on the block was turned off by Con Edison while they investigate. Neighbors are still in shock.

"I was sitting there eating a sandwich and I heard something go boom," said neighbor Margo Boom. "That was too loud to just be an injury."

"I was watching TV, my cat was looking out the window, and I heard a boom. My cat jumped down and I started smelling smoke," said neighbor George Tyson. "It could have been any one of these buildings blowing up."

This all comes just nine days after the deadly high-rise fire in the Bronx.

"We as a borough are absolutely devastated. Yet another fire that we're facing here in the South Bronx, in Longwood," said Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson. "We are all in this together, and through our pain, we will continue to find purpose."

NYPD investigators will work with the fire marshal to determine the official cause of the blast. There was no immediate indication of any criminality.

While the official cause remains under investigation, Con Ed has gas safety tips. For more information on those, CLICK HERE.

Con Edison says gas service to all but one home in the area has been restored.

Kevin Rincon contributed to this report. 

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