Firefighter in Townhouse Explosion: Somebody Was Watching Over Me

Two firefighters were hospitalized after a townhouse explosion in West Haverstraw

By Roseanne Colletti
|  Tuesday, Jan 17, 2012  |  Updated 7:27 PM EDT
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West Haverstraw volunteer firefighter Jerry Knapp was standing on the porch of a home when it suddenly blew up.  He tells News4's Roseanne Colletti his story.

NBC New York

West Haverstraw volunteer firefighter Jerry Knapp was standing on the porch of a home when it suddenly blew up. He tells News4's Roseanne Colletti his story.

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Raw Video: House Explodes in Rockland County

Chopper footage captures first responders battling a blaze following a house explosion in West Haverstraw, N.Y.
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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.

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.

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