DALLAS -- A 12-year-old girl was killed in a home explosion that may be linked to two other fires that took place in a one-week period in a northwest Dallas neighborhood.
The young victim was identified as Linda Rogers, who was transported to Children's Medical Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Four others were injured in the explosion that was reported at about 6:30 a.m. Friday in the 3500 block of Espanola Drive, off Marsh Lane just north of Dallas Love Field Airport.
A six-block radius, including more than 700 students at Stephen C. Foster Elementary, was evacuated as a precaution as crews worked to investigate whether the explosion was linked to two other fires reported in the area earlier in the week.
Officials have extended their radius to an additional block to the evacuation, Cortez Drive going South to Bolivar Drive between Marsh Lane and Mixon Drive.
"We're working with Atmos to determine the best course of action," said Jason Evens, a spokesman with Dallas Fire-Rescue, when asked why they expanded the evacuation perimeters. "... Obviously we don't want to see happen to any other home what we saw happen to these three homes over the last three days."
Evans said responders arrived to the scene Friday morning to find the home majorly damaged but not on fire. They then observed residents from the home standing outside, with one of them holding an "unresponsive girl in their arms."
“We are deeply saddened by the death of the young girl at 3534 Espanola Drive this morning," read a statement from Atmos released early Friday afternoon. "We express our sincere heartfelt condolences to her family. The safety of the residents and first responders is our highest concern. We are working in close partnership with Dallas Fire Rescue as the cause of today’s incident is thoroughly investigated."
Morgan Lyons, with DART, said DFR has asked for help in evacuating people, and buses have been sent to help keep people dry and warm.
Two other fires were reported one block over on Wednesday and Thursday.
The first happened just before 6 a.m. Wednesday at a home in the 3500 block of Durango Drive. Firefighters found flames coming from the back of the home, and a witness reported seeing an explosion. One person suffered burns. The fire was determined to be accidental and began near a gas heater.
The second fire broke out just before 10:30 a.m. on Thursday in the kitchen of a home in the 3500 block of Durango Drive. Fire crews arrived and put the fire out quickly. One person was taken to the hospital for injuries received while standing in front of the kitchen stove, Evans said. This fire was also deemed accidental, and the American Red Cross was called out to help with the residents of the home.
Evans says DFR crews believe the incidents are related to gas lines.
On Saturday the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced it was sending three investigators to investigate the explosion of the single-family residence. Their team is set to arrive Sunday morning.
Pre-K through second-grade students from Stephen C. Foster Elementary were transported to Edward H. Cary Middle School and third through fifth to Thomas Jefferson High School.
Linda Rogers was supposed to be competing Friday at the Dallas Convention Center. She was a huge part of the local cheer team.
News of her death spread quickly at the N-C-A All-Star Nationals.
A manager at the gym she goes to says she was always smiling, a very hard worker, and a tough competitor.
Jay Chavez with Express Cheer took video of her team perform without her. He says it was emotional for a lot of people in that room.
Especially seeing an obvious missing part to their routine and to their formation.
Chavez says so many people came to cheer for Linda's team.
Attorneys for the family of Linda Rogers, say four others were injured and that the family had just moved in last month. They shared the family’s GoFundMe account.