POINT PLEASANT BEACH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey man was critically injured early Monday morning when a natural gas explosion rocked his Point Pleasant Beach home.

Around 1:40 a.m., authorities said a 47-year-old man woke up to the strong smell of gas inside his house on Rear Cooks Lane.

He then got up and went to the bathroom, but when he turned on the light switch, the entire house exploded and burst into flames, authorities said.

“It just happens that fast, that you can lose everything in a moment,” witness Donna Kiddie told CBS2’s Christine Sloan.

“Me and my wife were in bed, and all of a sudden, the whole house shook, like an explosion,” added witness Brian Kiddie. “I mean, it was like a bomb going off.”

The man, Kurt Wagner, suffered burns to 40 to 50 percent of his body. He was taken to the hospital, where he was downgraded from stable to critical condition.

The Kiddies shot video of the scene after rushing to help their neighbor.

“The guy that was living in the house got blown out the front door,” Brian Kiddie said. “And he was rolling on the lawn next door.”

“He was just screaming. He was like, ‘Help, help!'” Donna Kiddie said.

Kurt Wagner was critically hurt in a gas explosion at his home in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., on March 2, 2015. (credit: CBS2)

Kurt Wagner was critically hurt in a gas explosion at his home in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., on March 2, 2015. (credit: CBS2)

Friends say Wagner had just got back from a fishing trip.

“He had been out of work for a little while, and he just got a chance to make a couple trips with me to get a couple paychecks, and this happens,” said friend Manuel Viana.

Gas company officials said they’ve checked all their lines outside and see no problems. They believe the problem was either inside Wagner’s bungalow or with the line that connects to the main house.

“Our focus is on the customer’s side of the facilities,” said New Jersey Resources’ Michael Kinney. “We did a leak survey and have identified no leaks at this time.”

The Ocean Country Prosecutor’s Office is investigating to determine the exact cause of the explosion, but investigators are focusing on a heater, Sloan reported.

Prosecutor’s office spokesman Al Della Fave said turning on the light was a bad decision, WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported.

“That is not what you want to do when you smell gas,” he said. “You don’t want to touch anything that’s electrical in nature or would produce an open flame or spark.”

Other safety tips from New Jersey Natural Gas:

 Remove any cigarettes or other smoking materials from the area and then extinguish them

 Do not use matches, lighters or other open flames or activate light switches, electrical appliances, flashlights, doorbells or even garage door openers, as they could create a spark.

 Do not use telephones (cellular included) on the premises where the leak is suspected. Phones can create a spark.

 Evacuate everyone from the building immediately and then call NJNG from a safe location at 800-GAS-LEAK (800-427-5325).

 Do not re-enter the building until NJNG has declared it to be safe.

Other signs of a gas leak include any unusual hissing or roaring sounds, dirt blowing into the air, persistent bubbling in standing water or discolored or dead vegetation around the pipeline area.

For more information, visit www.njng.com.

This is the second natural gas explosion in Ocean County in less than a week.

Last Tuesday, 15 people were hurt after an explosion destroyed a home in Stafford Township.

Seven gas company workers were injured, including the two who were critically hurt, along with six firefighters and two emergency medical service technicians.

The blast, which investigators said was caused by a problem with a line outside, also damaged dozens of homes.

Comments

Leave a Reply