Man remains hospitalized after explosion

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David Minton/DRC
As firefighters spray down the smolder remains, roof shingles hang from the branches of a tree near the lot where a gas explosion destroyed a building on E Main St in Lewisville Friday afternoon causing a 3-alarm fire, Friday, January 11, 2013, in Lewisville, TX.
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One man remains in critical condition after a natural gas explosion leveled a duplex in Old Town Lewisville on Friday.

“The man who was inside the residence at the time of the explosion is still alive,” Lewisville Fire Chief Tim Tittle said Saturday afternoon.

The resident, believed to be in his 50s, was transported from Medical Center of Lewisville to a more advanced trauma center at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano, Tittle said.

The blast also injured two veteran Lewisville firefighters, who were treated and released from the Lewisville hospital Friday.

“One had to get four stitches on his arm from a laceration he received,” Tittle said.

The other injured firefighter had been reported Friday to be suffering possible cardiac issues, but doctors found they were back spasms.

“Tests and X-rays were completed for precautionary measures, but it turns out they were just lower back spasms,” Tittle said.

On Friday morning, the city had a third-party construction crew digging to place a new utility pole on East Main Street, officials said.

“They were using an auger to drill a hole and it struck the gas line, causing a leak,” Tittle said.

Once the line was hit, Atmos Gas was called out to close the line.

“Around 10 a.m. is when we [Lewisville Fire Department] were called out for standby. It’s just a protective measure should something get out of hand and we have always done it,” Tittle said.

Officials on the scene reported they went door to door to anyone upwind from the leak for evacuation in case something was to happen.

Around 12:30 p.m., an explosion about 50 feet to 75 feet from the line sent debris flying out all over Main Street from a two-apartment duplex owned by Christian Community Action Center.

“The explosion is believed to have occurred inside the home [duplex], leaving behind substantial damage,” Assistant Fire Chief Brian Freed said Friday afternoon.

After crews spent the remainder of the evening searching through the debris, no one else was discovered injured.

“There was a playground really close by. It’s a good thing all the [neighborhood] kids were in school when this happened,” Freed said.

Half a dozen Atmos Energy customers were without power for much of Friday afternoon while crews worked to find the 4-inch gas line.

“Crews had a hard time locating the leak because of the depth,” Tittle said.

The leak was found and covered before 5 p.m. Friday, and Atmos announced Saturday that repairs had been completed and natural gas service in the area was restored.

“Company officials remind everyone to call 811 before beginning any project that involves digging,” stated a news release from Atmos. “If even minor damage to a natural gas pipeline is caused, immediately leave the area and call 911 or Atmos Energy’s emergency number at 1-866-322-8667.”

Those displaced by Friday’s incident were taken care of by the Christian Community Action Center, President Ron Batts said.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to these victims and their families during their recovery,” Ryan said.

MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is mgray@dentonrc.com.


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