Man's nose leads him to gas leak in Lewisville

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by By BRETT SHIPP / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on November 26, 2008 at 11:22 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 11 at 4:52 PM

WFAA-TV

LEWISVILLE - A Lewisville man's nose led him to a potentially deadly discovery, and now he wants the public to beware.

What started as a mysterious explosion that killed Benny and Martha Cryer of Wylie in October of 2006 not only spawned into a News 8 investigation, but it also resulted in the removal of tens of thousands of faulty fittings beneath the North Texas soil.

Compression couplings were installed next to gas meters decades ago; and when they began to fail, they began to kill.

The couplings were associated with homes built in the '50s '60s and '70s - until now.

One month ago, Tim Burga - of Lewisville - was pulling into his alley driveway when it hit him. He smelled the faint odor of natural gas inside of his truck, which led him to grow concern.

"There is no question in my mind it was natural gas," he said.

He immediately called Atmos Energy, who came right out and found a gas leak on his side of the meter.

The leak was coming from a pipe that had separated from its compression coupling, just as documented repeatedly by News Eight over the past year.

"And that is a compression fitting they said, and that snapped loose and it allowed gas coming straight out of this pipe to just flow unimpeded into the law for who knows how long," Burga said.

That was exactly what had happened to the Cryers two years ago.

But in Burga's case, and for the first time, it was a coupling linked with a newer home. His homse was built in 1995, meaning other newer homes could also be susceptible.

While Burga had the line quickly repaired, he said he only thought to warn others after watching PBS last Friday night. He watched a Bill Moyers special that documented the anatomy of the News 8 investigation into the faulty couplings.

Only then, Burga said, did he learn the wider scope of problem, which was when he decide to let the public know more faulty compression couplings may be in the ground than originally thought.

While gas companies statewide are working to replace all of the couplings, the one in Burga's yard was installed by a contractor apparently trying to cut corners.

Burga said his best advice is to trust you senses and act if you suspect a gas problem.

"Do not hesitate to call," he said. "Do not hesitate because it takes ten seconds to make the phone call and you are potentially saving your life, your family's lives, your house, your neighbors'."

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