A Queens mom was killed Friday night when her house exploded - sparking a roaring inferno - while Con Edison was investigating a gas leak, officials said.
The utility worker who had just lifted a manhole cover was injured in the earthshaking blast, which flattened the home and sent debris and flames flying into the air.
Firefighters found Ghanwatti Boodram's body in the rubble of the 260th St. house four hours after the 4:50 p.m. explosion.
Dindial Boodram, 46, a surgical technologist at Jamaica Hospital, was at work and the couple's three boys - the eldest is 10 - were in an after-school program when the explosion occurred.
The distraught dad, reached at a relative's home Friday night, said his wife was a nurse at Roosevelt Hospital and "the most wonderful woman you could ever imagine.
"My sons aren't taking it very well," he said, his voice barely above a whisper and cracking. "We are not very fine right now."
A neighbor said the couple's children barely escaped the explosion.
"She came home from work and was about to pick up her kids from school. A few minutes later and the kids would have been home," said Esau Hanis, 52, a retired Marine who lives nearby.
Boodram's next-door neighbors summoned Con Ed to the tree-lined block in middle-class Floral Park.
Stanley Barth noticed the electricity in the front rooms of his house was off and called the utility.
About 20 minutes later, his wife, Vita, smelled gas and called again.
"They came pretty promptly," Stanley Barth said.
The utility worker checked the basement, found evidence of a gas leak and went across the street to inspect a manhole.
"While they were searching for that gas leak, removing the manhole cover, the building...exploded," FDNY Chief of Operations Patrick McNally said.
Con Ed spokesman Chris Olert said it's too early to tell if removing the manhole cover somehow caused the blast.
"There are scores of things that can trigger this, but what would need to have happened is a spark in the sewer," Olert said. "Our guys open manholes on a regular basis."
Neighbors said the explosion was so powerful, the entire street shook.
"I was laying in my bed watching television, and I heard a loud explosion," said Rudi Falsetti. "And I opened my back door to look out, and I saw debris flying in the air, smoke and fire."
The Barths ran outside and were stunned by the devastation.
"The house was leveled, and there was a fierce fire immediately," Vita Barth said.
The flames quickly spread to three adjoining homes.
One 80-year-old woman was injured, along with the Con Ed worker and four firefighters who struggled for two hours to bring the blaze under control. Their injuries were not life-threatening.
Con Ed workers and police began escorting the dozens of evacuated homeowners back to their homes Friday night, making their way past the heavy construction equipment cleaning up the scene.Stanley Barth said he had no idea how badly his home was damaged in the fire but was grateful to have escaped with his life.