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Stephenville Man Burned In Atmos Gas Explosion Has Died

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A 57-year-old man who was badly burned when his Stephenville house exploded in May 2017 has died.

Police officer body cameras captured Raul Pedroza's agony moments after a six-foot ball of flame engulfed him and set his Stephenville home on fire.

Raul Pedroza – burn victim
Raul Pedroza – burn victim

The Navy veteran's family told CBS 11 News in April that neither Pedroza nor a friend visiting his home smelled gas before turning on the stove to cook lunch. Pedroza suffered burns to nearly 70 percent of his body and remained bedridden under constant care. He died on Friday at a California hospital near his brother's home.

In a lawsuit, Pedroza's family faults Atmos Energy for failing to warn him that the odor in natural gas "has a propensity to fade as a result of two different chemical reactions" and can "become undetectable to normal human olfactory senses."

"Atmos Energy has no evidence that odor fade occurred at the residence," the gas company said in a written statement sent to the I-Team on Friday. "Evidence establishes compliance and effectiveness of the odorization of natural gas."

Natural gas is tasteless, invisible and odor-free, but federal law requires an odorant to be injected so that consumers can be alerted to leaks. For many, the odorant gives gas a rotten egg smell.

Fire investigators ruled the blaze at Pedroza's house to be an accident, fueled by an open gas value. Regardless, Pedroza's family maintains he and his friend should have smelled the dangerous gas collecting in his home.

"God blessed me to fight with you for the last 15 months, through ups and downs, your pain, tears, frustration, anger, hope, hopelessness, love, gratefulness," Lisa Pedroza, his sister-in-law, wrote on Facebook after his passing. "You fought the good fight, Raul, you didn't want to leave us all, but your body couldn't do any longer. God took you home, so you could find the peace that you were searching for a very long, long time."

A memorial service will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Sept. 15 at Summit Water of Life Church in Fontana, California.

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