LaPeer, MI-

A Burnside Township senior citizen walked away without a scratch after a natural gas explosion that leveled his Ragan Road home Saturday morning.

“It blew out the windows 40 feet out,” said Brown City Fire Chief Jim Groat, Jr. “He’s a lucky man. He walked away unhurt.”

Carl Wright, 82, was alone in his Ragan Road home around 9:30 a.m. attempting to ignite his gas furnace pilot light. He experienced difficulty and finally gave up. Fire officials suspect natural gas from his furnace seeped across the room, into the kitchen and was ignited by the pilot light on his cooking stove.

His son, who lives next door, heard a loud explosion and phoned 911.

“You could see the flames seven miles away,” Groat said. “We called for assistance from Goodland, Marlette and North Branch fire departments.”

When Brown City firefighters arrived, Wright was outside—startled but unhurt.

“He were really glad to see him,” Groat said. “He was dazed and shook up. At that point I’m not sure he even knew what room he was in when it happened.”

About 20 firefighters were on the scene for more than four hours; Brown City canceled support from Marlette and Goodland.

“We were also assisted by Marlette EMS and Detroit Edison,” Groat said. “We called in the Red Cross.”

Wright’s single family home and all its contents were totally destroyed. There was no loss estimate at press time. Other than some siding and trim meltdown, the close-by house next door was spared.

Groat advises homeowners to be extremely cautious when lighting furnace pilot lights.

“It would be best to hire a contractor and make certain everything is up to par,” Groat said.