Cause of Lewisville gas explosion still under investigation

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by JOBIN PANICKER

Bio | Email | Follow: @jobinpnews

WFAA

Posted on January 12, 2013 at 12:07 AM

LEWISVILLE --  It was a scary scene in Lewisville as a duplex was leveled in a natural gas explosion.

A power company was out working to replace a power pole on Main Street around 10:30 a.m. Friday. They were using an auger to drill a hole and it struck the gas line, causing a leak.

Fire crews and the gas company were called in. Lewisville Fire Chief Tim Tittle said some neighbors were evacuated, but others nearby were just notified. One man wasn't evacuated from the duplex, about 50 feet away from the leak.

"Crews felt they were in a safe area, because they were upwind and not downwind from the leak, so we're going to be looking at that ourselves," Tittle said.

The explosion happened around 12:35 p.m. Pieces of roof flung onto the trees. The man who lived in the duplex, who has not been identified, was severely hurt. That man lived, according to the gas company's definition, upwind from the rupture.

Ron Batts runs the Christian organization that owns the property.

"We don't know if he refused to be evacuated, but we know he was in the house," Batts said.

News 8 asked Atmos Energy why the man living 50 feet from the rupture wasn't evacuated.

"How that gas got inside and which path it may have taken -- that's all under investigation," said Jennifer Ryan with Atmos Energy.

The spokeswoman told us that there are too many factors to consider.

"Natural gas tends to find the path of least resistance," Ryan said. "That will be a part of the investigation about how this happened."

One woman who was evacuated wondered why the fire department and gas company did not just take all precautions.

"Their mistakes... they should have evacuated everybody before they started that mess," said Bronnia Campbell.

The gas was fully shut off at around 5 p.m., close to six-and-a-half hours after the line was ruptured. Atmos told us the four-inch gas line was six feet deep, making it difficult for crews to get to.

E-mail jpanicker@wfaa.com

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