Man hurt in 2d gas explosion at Shore

This is all that was left after a gas explosion blew apart a small home in Point Pleasant Beach on Monday, March 2, 2015.

POINT PLEASANT BEACH, N.J. - A natural gas explosion has rocked a house at the Jersey Shore for the second time in less than a week.

Kurt Wagner, 47, suffered burns over 40 to 50 percent of his body early Monday when his house in Point Pleasant Beach exploded.

Al Della Fave, a spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office, said Wagner awoke at 1:40 a.m. and smelled natural gas in his house. He walked into a bathroom and flipped on a light switch, and the building exploded.

Wagner was first taken to the nearest trauma center, at Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune, but was then transferred to the burn unit at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston. Authorities gave his condition as stable, but patients taken to the hospital's burn unit are usually in critical condition when they arrive.

The cause of the blast is under investigation. Fire investigators dug through charred rubble where the converted garage apartment once stood and seemed to be paying particular attention to an area in front of a blackened washer-dryer.

The apartment was detached from the house in front of it, and nearby buildings appeared to have escaped damage from the blast.

Last Tuesday, a natural gas explosion destroyed a house in Stafford Township, about 30 miles south of Point Pleasant Beach. That explosion injured 15 people, including two New Jersey Natural Gas workers critically.

The more seriously injured, Dean Barnett, 47, remains in critical condition. His coworker, Ed Jones of Marlton, was released from a hospital last week.

The Stafford explosion was attributed to a cracked two-inch gas main under the street in front of the house that allowed natural gas to flow into the basement along a water pipe. Investigators say they believe an open-flame ignition source, such as a pilot light for a furnace or water heater, ignited the gas and caused the explosion.