NEWARK — The theft of copper may have led to the explosion of an abandoned house on Sunday.

Witnesses told ABC 7 Eyewitness News that they were playing softball and stopped a man running out of the home on South Devine Street around 5:30 p.m. after the explosion, and turned him over to police when they arrived.

PSE&G confirmed to NBC 4 New York there had been a gas leak at the home near Vailsburg Park.

A picture posted by RLS Metro Breaking News showed police taking a man away in handcuffs, but police said he was not being held in connection with the explosion.

Man being taken away in handcuffs after a house explosion in Newark (RLS Metro Breaking News)

Witnesses told ABC 7 the man lit up a cigarette as he looked for copper scraps in the home when the house exploded, leveling half of it and leaving the other half badly damaged.

NBC 4 New York reported some surrounding homes sustained minor damage.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ.

More from New Jersey 101.5:

Sign up for the Newsletter

Get the best of delivered to your inbox every day.