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.
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.”