Berlin, CT – A gas explosion lifted a Berlin house off its foundation Monday and injured the 88-year-old homeowner who was in the basement at the time.

What caused gas to begin leaking inside Edison Occhi’s home at 239 Christian Lane is not clear, fire officials said Tuesday. But fire officials believe the explosion occurred when Occhi pressed the start button on his clothes dryer.

“It basically lifted the house up off the foundation about a foot, foot and a half and dropped it about foot forward, Berlin Deputy Fire Marshal Matt Odishoo said. He declined to identify the home owner, but land records show the house is owned by Occhi, who was described as a tough former Marine Corps gunnery sergeant.

After the explosion, Occhi clawed his way up the stairs and out of the basment and into what firefighters believe was the kitchen area. Passersby ran into the house and rescued Occhi, dragging him to safety.

He was seated in the front yard when firefighters arrived and urged them to save his house.

He was treated at Hartford Hospital, then transferred to the burn unit at Bridgeport Hospital for treatment of burns to his hands, arms and face, officials said.