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Victim Critical After Lewisville House Explosion

Lewisville Explosion
(credit: KTVT/KTXA)

LEWISVILLE (CBSDFW.COM) – A house explosion in Lewisville has left one resident in critical condition and two firefighters injured.

The blowup happened at a duplex in the 500 block of E. Main Street. Officials with the Lewisville Fire Department have confirmed to CBS 11 News that Friday morning a crew working for Atmos Energy was working on a gas leak in the area. Officials say hours after the gas leak and work on the 4-inch line began, the duplex suddenly exploded.

CBS 11 News learned a man (originally reported to be a woman) living in the duplex was so severely injured that he had to undergo surgery. Doctors have finished operating on the yet to be identified person (who is in critical condition) at Medical Center of Lewisville.

The two firefighters received medical treatment -- one receiving stitches for cuts and lacerations, the other treated for respiratory issues. both were treated and released.

A third firefighter was treated on scene for a scrape.

Aside from the man inside, firefighters had to wait for the gas to be shut off before they could check inside the duplex to see if there were victims who didn't make it out.  The gas was not cut off until 4:45 p.m. Friday, nearly 7 hours after it started leaking.  The blast happened just after 12:30, two and a half hours after the leak was called in.

Atmos Energy spokeswoman Jennifer Ryan says it took that long due to the line being six feet below the ground and says the workers were with a 3rd party construction crew.

Video from Chopper 11 showed one completely destroyed house and debris scattered all across the neighborhood. Witnesses working in the area said they not only heard, but also felt the blast. Some people as far away as The Colony report having heard the blast.

"The house just shook.  It was just incredible. [I] never felt anything like it before," said neighbor Danny Vigil. "[There were] photographs falling off the wall onto the ground.  It sounded like a missile coming through your house. It was actually like you were in a movie.  I ran out of the house to see what it was and I ended up seeing smoke, fire, flames. I turned the corner and saw shingles and debris up in the air, in the branches.  It was just an incredible sight."

Curt Deloris works in the area at the Fastnell Company. He told KRLD NewsRadio 1080, "It was a major explosion. It shook the building...our building here. What I understand from talking to some of the neighbors, it shot bricks about a block away, over to Church Street."

The duplex is owned by Christian Community Action, a group that helps people with transitional housing. The person injured in the fire worked for the group.

Officials with the group say alternate housing would be found for residents, though he wasn't sure how many people lived in the duplex or if others were hurt.

Because of natural gas in the air, homes and businesses downwind from the explosion were evacuated and nearby electricity was switched off. Nearby streets were also cordoned off as a precaution.

Lewisvillle Fire Chief Tim Tittle says at first they evacuated a one block area downwind, but not those upwind where the now destroyed duplex is.

The department previously said that they notified the residents inside the duplex and other homes about the gas leak, but didn't require them to leave.

Chief Tittle says their standard procedure is just to evacuate downwind.  He says the department didn't have any indication the duplex was going to explode, but says they may change their policy once they find out how and why the natural gas got into the house, causing the explosion.

Atmos' Ryan says natural gas follows a path of least resistance during leaks, and reminds everyone to call 811 before beginning any digging project.  She says 6 Atmos customers will be without service until full repairs are made.

The American Red Cross is helping residents in the neighborhood who may be displaced because of the explosion.

In addition to crews from the Lewisville Fire Department, fire engines from Highland Village, Carrollton and The Colony responded to the explosion.

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