Federal investigators are looking into a suspected natural gas explosion at a home in Dallas that killed a 12 year old girl and injured four other relatives. Time
DALLAS — Natural gas service to about 2,800 homes in Dallas was suspended Thursday after a home exploded last week, killing a 12-year-old girl.
Crews from Atmos Energy surveyed nearby areas after the blast, and Thursday the company decided to replace its gas lines in northwest Dallas, leaving thousands of customers without natural gas for two to three weeks.
Dallas-based Atmos, the country’s largest natural gas distributor, will compensate residents who choose to stay in hotels or incur other expenses during the disruption.
On Thursday, the company started handing out vouchers to help residents relocate.
Thursday’s announcement by Atmos was the latest development to roil an area of the city where hundreds have been evacuated since an explosion Friday knocked a home off its foundation and collapsed its roof.
The National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates accidents occurring during the transport of natural gas and other products through pipeline systems, described it as “a natural-gas fueled explosion.” A young girl, Linda Rogers, was killed and members of her family injured.
Over the ensuing days, some were allowed to return to their homes while other blocks were evacuated as crews worked to pinpoint leaks. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, the county’s top administrator, said Thursday that one line alone had more than two-dozen leaks. In addition to the hundreds of homes, authorities evacuated an apartment complex, elementary school and fire station.
Atmos executives, who oversee a network that includes more than 3 million customers in eight states, say the events in Dallas are unprecedented.
“We have never seen the circumstances that we saw this week,” CEO and President Mike Haefner said.
Heavy rains have inundated North Texas in recent weeks, and Kevin Akers, senior vice president for safety and enterprise services for Atmos, said the water caused underground pressure that pushed two different rock formations upward.
“That means with the extended rain that we have, the amount of rain and runoff and how that flows underground, causes … those formations to expand up and puts pressure on our system, thus causing leakage,” Akers said.
Aging inflexible pipes are being replaced with thick, high-grade plastic ones that offer flexibility when pressure is applied.
Atmos has promised to replace mains in the area, get residents back in their homes as quickly as possible, and take other steps.
“We will hold them accountable and make sure they live up to those promises,” Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax said.
In the meantime, most homeowners won’t be able to take hot showers, cook, or heat their houses.
That’s a problem for Viviana Cervera, who is a single mother of three daughters. She normally turns the heat on at night to keep her 2-year-old daughter warm.
“I don’t know how this is going to turn out,” Cervera said.
Resident Claudia Berumen lives along a gas line and had to evacuate after the explosion. She received a letter Thursday from Atmos about the gas cutoff.
“It’s an inconvenience, but I’d rather deal with this than see another life sacrificed,” Berumen said.
Contributing: The Associated Press