One of the firefighters who was thrown 40 feet by an explosion in Rockland County on Monday told NBC New York in an exclusive interview that he realizes how fortunate he was.
"Somebody was watching over us that day," said volunteer firefighter Jerry Knapp, who survived the blast, along with his partner, at a townhouse in West Haverstraw.( Mon Jan 16 13:22:40 PST 2012 $__output )
Knapp said the firefighters were on the doorstep of the townhouse on Zarriello Lane, investigating reports of a gas leak, and were about to enter the house at the request of the utility company when the blast blew them back.
"It was like somebody tackled me but lifted me up and threw me," he said Tuesday.
Nearby homes were evacuated after the explosion, which leveled the townhouse.
Knapp suffered a facial fracture, a concussion and burns on his head and forehead. He was released but his partner is still recovering at the hospital with broken ribs.
Knapp said he can't feel his mouth or teeth -- and doctors say the numbness could last for months.
Still, he and his family are thankful that it wasn't worse.
"You realize just how lucky both these firemen were," his wife said.