Irving neighbors want answers after gas line explosion

People who live near an Irving home that exploded Monday during gas line work are growing even more frustrated over the lack of answers about how and why the explosion happened.

State regulators are now investigating the steps Atmos Energy took during its gas leak investigation.

The De La Cruz family and neighbors living near O’Connor Road and Northgate Drive want answers. They say Atmos Energy has yet to provide them with any. They’re extremely frustrated by Atmos' handling of the situation — both before and after the explosion.

Michael Fleming was asleep in his bedroom around 4 a.m. Monday when his next-door neighbor's house exploded. A day later, Fleming says he's still waiting on Atmos Energy to provide him with an explanation.

“Everybody was wondering what was going on,” he said. “You'd think they'd come door to door house by house checking and letting us know. Nothing. Nothing at all.”

Elena De La Cruz and her husband returned to what's left of their home for the first time since the New Year's Day explosion. The scene makes her emotional.

The Texas Railroad Commission is now investigating Atmos' actions. They said crews were repairing a leak on a six-inch natural gas main line near the home when there was an explosion. Luckily, the family of five made it out with hardly a scratch.

Atmos Energy declined requests for an on-camera interview. In a written statement, they said “We are in the process of gathering relevant information and facts. This process takes time and we do not have any additional information to share at this time."

Fleming expects more from the energy company.

“We're still all scared to turn the heaters on or have a hot water going,” he said.

Like the De La Cruz family, Fleming wants to know why residents weren’t evacuated if Atmos knew there was a gas leak. Atmos wouldn’t say.

Irving Assistant Fire Chief Jay Taylor says Atmos Energy never told the fire department they needed to evacuate residents or take any other precautions.

“They felt confident they had pinpointed the activity was where the damage was to the line,” he explained. “I believe they were correcting that and felt comfortable. But natural gas can do some odd things.”

Taylor says his investigators are tasked with trying to determine what the actual ignition source was inside of the home that caused it to explode. He says due to the extent of the damage, it may never be clear.

The Red Cross is housing the De La Cruz family in a hotel until Friday. After that, they have no idea where they'll go.

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