Atmos investigators search for cause of explosion in Haltom City

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on December 7, 2011 at 6:34 PM

HALTOM CITY - A pet lost in a violent explosion in Haltom City was pulled from what's left of a house. The family of four narrowly escaped last night's blast. Their dog, Diva, now makes five.

Atmos Energy investigators were at that house, trying to find what caused it to go up in flames. A company spokesman told News 8 the investigation could take several days.

The Diaz family thought their one-year-old shih tzu was lost in the fire, but late this afternoon, they found her in the rubble, shivering and alive. It was an early Christmas present after tragedy struck Tuesday night.

"We thought she died in there," said Alba Diaz, the homeowner’s daughter.

Atmos Energy crews spent the day digging holes across the neighborhood, looking for gas leaks. Most of the homes here are at least 60 years old. Some neighbors told us they smelled gas Tuesday afternoon, about five-and-a-half hours before the explosion.

"Anybody here can tell you that most of these houses do have a lot of settle in them," said Jeff Sloan, who lives two houses down. "And it's pretty dangerous when you're talking about the gas lines and stuff like that."

But an Atmos spokesman said the company did not take in any calls about gas leaks.

"As far as I know, we've had no problems in the neighborhood, other than we do normal maintenance we do here, like reading meters,” said Ray Granado with Atmos.

Jaime Diaz told us he had just come home from work and went to take a shower when the house exploded. He showed us a small statue of the Virgin Mary that somehow survived the blast and fire. He believes it was a sign.

"God is still with us and saved us," Diaz said.

Four people, including the Diaz' grandson, are all okay.

Haltom City and Atmos investigators are focusing on trying to find the exact place where the fire ignited. They’re looking at three natural-gas powered appliances that were in the house, including the water header, a range and a dryer. Jaime Diaz said all were working fine before the explosion.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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