POINT PLEASANT BEACH, N.J. (AP) — A natural gas explosion has rocked a house at the New Jersey shore for the second time in less than a week.

Police say a 47-year-old Point Pleasant Beach man suffered burns over 40 to 50 percent of his body early Monday when his house exploded.

Al Della Fave, a spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, said the man awoke at 1:40 a.m. and smelled a strong odor of natural gas inside his home. He walked into a bathroom and flipped the light switch to turn it on when the building exploded.

He 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 would only give 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 used shovels to dig 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 garage apartment was detached from the house in front of it, and nearby buildings appeared to escape damage from the blast.

It was the second gas explosion at the Jersey shore in less than a week. Last Tuesday, a natural gas explosion destroyed a home in Stafford Township, about 30 miles south of Point Pleasant Beach. It injured 15 people, two critically.

The most seriously injured worker, 47-year-old Dean Barnett, remains in critical condition. His co-worker, Ed Jones of Marlton, was released from the hospital last week.

The Stafford explosion was attributed to a cracked 2-inch gas main under the street in front of the home that allowed natural gas to flow into the basement along a water pipe. Investigators believe an open-flame ignition source, such as a pilot light for a furnace or water heater, ignited the gas and caused the explosion.

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