Three natural gas explosions in the same Dallas neighborhood in two days, including a blast that killed a 12-year-old girl the morning of Feb. 23 and forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents, are being investigated by federal authorities.
The Friday explosion in the Northwest Dallas community just north of Dallas Love Field International Airport killed 12-year-old Linda Rogers, known to her friends and family as Michelita, and injured four of her family members.
The explosion also destroyed the home, covering surrounding homes with rubble and debris.
According to the Associated Press, firefighters arrived at the scene Friday night to find four injured family members waiting outside the ruins of their home. One family member “was holding the unconscious girl in his arms. Fire-rescue spokesman Jason Evans says efforts to resuscitate the girl began immediately, but she was pronounced dead at a hospital,” the AP reported.
The deadly natural gas explosion followed two similar blasts in the same neighborhood Thursday. One resident reported that the flame on his stove suddenly flared, and a third home was heavily damaged after a gas heater in the rear of the structure exploded, sending one person to the hospital with burn injuries.
According to WFAA Channel 8 Dallas, all three homes share a common alley. The homes are also hooked up to the same Atmos Energy pipelines suspected to be the root of the problem.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the federal agency that investigates major pipeline accidents and other transport-related incidents, sent three investigators to the Dallas neighborhood on Sunday morning to open a probe of the natural gas explosions.
WFAA says that records it obtained show that there have been at least seven other gas leaks within a block of the house that exploded Friday. Two of those leaks were found to be the result of defective pipe fittings known as compression couplings, which can separate when the north Texas soil shifts.
Atmos Energy pledged to replace all the faulty couplings nearly a decade ago, but natural gas explosions kept occurring. The faulty joints were blamed for a southeast Dallas house explosion in 2015 that injured two people and likely another natural gas explosion in a Northeast Dallas home in 2016.