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Dallas firefighters injured in September gas explosion at apartment complex file $100M lawsuit

The three firefighters were hospitalized with severe burn injuries after an explosion at the Highland Hills apartment complex, following a gas leak.

DALLAS — Note: The video above is from a report on Nov. 18, 2021.

Three Dallas firefighters who suffered severe burns in a gas explosion at an apartment complex in September have filed a lawsuit seeking $100 million in damages.

In a news release, attorneys for the firefighters said the lawsuit is against the apartment complex, its management company and Atmos Energy. The attorneys claim the explosion happened due to "negligence" by the complex and the gas company.

The explosion happened on Sept. 29, 2021, at the Highland Hills apartment complex near Bonnie View and Simpson Stuart roads in southern Dallas.

Firefighters were initially called around 10:30 a.m. to investigate a natural gas leak. While investigating the source of a smell of gas, the explosion happened.

Dallas Fire-Rescue Capt. Christopher Gadomski, driver engineer Ronald Hall and department officer Pauline Perez were hospitalized with severe burn injuries. According to the lawsuit, the three firefighters were "permanently injured."

A fourth firefighter, officer Andrew Curtis, also suffered a foot injury in the incident. Three apartment employees were also injured and have recovered.

An investigation found that the gas leak was triggered after a suspect fired gunshots into an apartment, which hit a stove and severed a gas line.

Philip Dankins, 28, was arrested and faces seven deadly conduct charges regarding the shooting and explosion. Police said the shooting was connected to a domestic dispute between Dankins and his girlfriend.

The attorneys for Gadomski, Hall and Perez place the blame for the explosion on the apartment complex and Atmos.

"While the bullet may have caused the initial gas leak, the bullet did not cause the explosion," the attorneys said in the news release.

According to the lawsuit, the gas supply to the complex was not shut off and the apartment building that exploded was not evacuated.

The lawsuit stated that Perez had entered the unit where the gas leak was to see if anyone was inside, while Gadomski and Hall were outside trying to shut off the gas supply. Then, the explosion happened.

According to the lawsuit, the apartment's management company also "operated an unregistered natural gas master meter system that failed to meet minimum federal and state standards." 

The lawsuit claims Atmos Energy wasn't aware of the "unregistered" system and had continued to make "numerous repairs" to it due to previous leaks.

The three firefighters are seeking more than $1 million for medical expenses, lost wages and their injuries from Atmos and the complex. They are also seeking $100 million from the energy company and the complex and its management company for gross negligence.

"As a result of years of ignoring safety, ignoring crime, and failing to comply with the minimum state and federal requirements, the Highland Hills Apartment complex and its gas system became a ticking time bomb waiting to explode," the firefighters' attorney said in a statement.

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