New Jersey Firefighter Describes ‘Fireball’ at Gas Explosion

The gas explosion that left a man in critical condition was not caused by the utility’s infrastructure, reports

New Jersey Natural Gas workers arrived around 2:25 a.m. and turned off the gas to the bungalow-style structure on Cooks Lane that was on fire behind the primary residence, company spokesman Michael Kinney said. The company took leak surveys and pressure tests, which showed no damage to the gas lines.

“It was not with New Jersey Natural Gas’ infrastructure, it was with the customer’s facility, whether that be equipment inside the structure or the service that goes from the meter into that bungalow,” he said.

Authorities have not released the victim’s name, but a law enforcement source identified him as Kurt Wagner.

Wagner was listed in critical but stable condition and was in the Burn Intensive Care Unit at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, according to Samantha Anton, a spokeswoman for the hospital.

The 47-year-old resident was found outside the house alert and conscious, and suffered burns to 40 to 50 percent of his body, according to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. He reported that he woke up and smelled natural gas, went to the bathroom and turned on a light when the house ignited.

The Point Pleasant Beach explosion came six days after another gas explosion in Stafford Township, injuring 15 people including seven New Jersey Natural Gas employees, six firefighters and two emergency medical service personnel.

That explosion was caused by a leaking 2-inch natural gas distribution mainin the street, the prosecutor’s office said. The gas built up and ignited from an open flame, such as a pilot light.

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