orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

January 11, 2013

3 hurt in blast that levels North Texas house


Associated Press

LEWISVILLE, Texas — An explosion Friday in a North Texas neighborhood leveled a home that is part of a local nonprofit's affordable housing program, injuring at least three men and scattering debris.

Authorities were still trying to determine what caused the blast in Lewisville, about 20 miles northwest of Dallas. Two firefighters and another man were injured.

Lewisville Assistant Fire Chief Brian Freed said officials were waiting for natural gas lines near the home to be shut down before investigating if others might have been inside the structure at the time of the blast.

The injured men were taken to Medical Center of Lewisville. Hospital spokeswoman CeCe Clemens said the two firefighters were in fair condition and the third man was in critical condition.

The home is owned by Christian Community Action, which rents it out to families who are struggling financially, said Ron Batts, president and CEO of the nonprofit group. Batts did not know how many people were living in the home.

Freed said firefighters had first gone to the home around 10 a.m. Friday after a gas leak was reported. Natural gas provider Atmos Energy worked on the leak for about 2½ hours when the home, which was next to the line being worked on, exploded.

"There was no indication. It was just an immediate explosion," Freed said. Some homes in the area had been evacuated when the gas leak was first reported, he said.

Jennifer Ryan, a spokeswoman for Atmos Energy, had no details on what led to the blast and said the cause was under investigation.

"Our No. 1 priority right now is to make sure the area is safe and secure for all the residents," Ryan said. "We are working right now to shut the gas off on this pipeline."

Ray Hall, owner of Hall Electrical Services, a business near the explosion, said he and others were inside their building when they heard a large boom.

Hall described the blast as "a tremendous explosion" and said he saw high flames and debris floating in the air.