Four firefighters and four civilians were injured in an explosion at a Dallas apartment complex on Wednesday. The blast occurred after firefighters had arrived on the scene to investigate reports of residents smelling gas, indicating it was a natural gas explosion. However, when Atmos Energy arrived to shut off the gas and check their systems, they said it was “operating as expected.”
The two-story apartment building where the explosion occurred is located on Highland Hills drive between South Lancaster and Interstate-45, just blocks from Dallas Fire Station 54. The blast was so intense that it collapsed at least one building in the complex and spread debris onto nearby buildings. Although investigators are still determining the exact blast radius, residents about a quarter of a mile away reported hearing and feeling what seemed like an earthquake.
One woman who lived in the complex described her experience to local news.
“And when they tried to open the door, the whole apartment just blew up. It blew up. And that’s when I got hit with glass when the apartment got hit, it threw me back up the stairs,” she said. She was treated by Dallas Fire-Rescue at the scene for cuts across her arms and her legs.
About 300 residents from 200 households were displaced as a result of the Dallas apartment explosion, according to the Dallas Office of Emergency Management. The Red Cross worked quickly to set up a space to help those affected at the Tommy M. Allen Recreation Center on Bonnie View Road.
3 Firefighters Remain in Critical Condition
During a news conference on Wednesday, the medical director for Dallas Fire-Rescue said that three of the four firefighters injured in the blast were in critical but stable condition. Sources also told local news that two of the three firefighters had suffered second-degree burns when the apartment exploded, and they are currently being treated at Parkland Hospital’s Burn Unit.
The injured firefighters sustained the brunt of the blast as they started investigating what smelled like natural gas around a building near the front gate of the complex. Suddenly, an explosion occurred and caused a partial collapse of the building.
A resident who lives nearby said he saw a firefighter escaping. “All his clothes and the whole house were just on fire,” he said.
Dallas Fire-Rescue Chief Dominique Artis described hearing about the incident, saying “…when you hear a mayday call from your firefighters, your heart sinks, because that means somebody’s trapped or injured.”
The four civilians and one firefighter were all released from the hospital by Wednesday night.
Atmos Energy Called to Scene After Dallas Apartment Explosion
The cause of the gas explosion at this Dallas apartment complex is still unknown, but investigators are working to determine what happened. Dallas Fire-Rescue called Atmos Energy to the scene, and the company’s technicians verified that gas was shut off to the apartment complex.
Atmos Energy released a statement on Wednesday night, saying they had performed safety checks and had “found no indication that our system was involved.”
Atmos, like many oil and gas companies, has a troubling history of pipeline explosions:
- Collin County Gas Explosion Kills 2, Injures 2
- Company Behind Collin County Gas Explosion Has History of Negligence
- Plano Texas Explosion Injures 6, Levels Home
- Plano House Explosion Update: Natural Gas Leak Likely to Blame
9 Killed & 22 Injured in North & Central Texas Gas Explosions from 2006-2018
Dallas is unfortunately all too familiar with natural gas explosions. The Dallas Morning News investigated, finding that 9 people were killed and 22 were injured in explosions linked to natural gas leaks in over 2 dozen North and Central Texas homes between 2006 and 2018.
One incident involved the death of a 12-year-old girl in her home as she was practicing her cheerleading routine early in the morning on February 28, 2018. That explosion occurred the morning after Atmos had been investigating and fixing leaks just behind her family’s house. Federal investigators learned that Atmos had been aware of gas leaks in that area for more than seven weeks prior to the explosion that claimed the young girl’s life.
Wednesday’s Dallas apartment complex explosion is under investigation, and our pipeline explosion attorneys will follow this story as it develops. Too often, we have seen innocent people pay the price when large corporations delay fixing and replacing aging pipelines. If this is the case here, we hope to see at-fault parties held accountable.