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Elderly Landlord Severely Burned When Mysterious Package Explodes In Springfield Gardens, Queens

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – An elderly man was badly burned after a package exploded in front of a Queens home Friday afternoon.

Police said the 73-year-old landlord opened the package, which had been left on the porch of a home in Springfield Gardens, when it blew up.

Cellphone video shows the victim doubled over in pain and shock, with his clothes scattered on the front lawn.

"I heard a loud explosion, and it shook the house," said neighbor Rick Thomas.

He was one of several neighbors who threw wet towels on the victim.

"I saw a man laying in the grass, he was actually on his knees and he was on fire," Thomas said. "He was screaming out in pain, lot of pain, because the flames engulfed his whole top half."

Within moments, first responders rushed him to the hospital with second and third degree burns covering 80 percent of his body, CBS2's Jessica Borg reported.

"That's crazy. That's really crazy," another neighbor said.

The NYPD bomb squad and federal investigators took over the property on 222nd Street near 145th Road. They were testing residue on the brick and the front door, where half of the glass was blown out.

Investigators said the package was cylinder in shape and filled with black power, or gunpowder, which is commonly used in antique firearms.

"There is substantial evidence left from this device, which appears to be a victim-actuated device," NYPD Det. Robert Boyce said. "In other words, when he opened it, the explosion occurred."

Police said the package had no postal information on it and had been sitting on the porch for seven days. It was addressed to a single name, which detectives are not releasing at this point.

Authorities said two families rent out the home, but the package did not belong to either of them.

The landlord apparently comes by every so often to check on the house in a neighborhood that's described as safe, Borg reported.

"Nobody is in the street. Nobody does anything," one resident said. "It's quiet."

The victim was listed in critical condition.

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