Thursday, October 02, 2014

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Investigators: Gas leak to blame for fatal Central Austin fire

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TWC News: Investigators: Gas leak to blame for fatal Central Austin fire
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YNN's Jeff Stensland shares the latest from the scene.

Investigators have confirmed that an accidental gas leak caused a Central Austin house to explode Monday morning, killing one person inside.

Officials say a house exploded just after 8:30 a.m. in the 1700 block of Payne Avenue. Travis County EMS officials said they found a body inside the house where the explosion occurred.

When fire crews arrived, the house was fully engulfed in flames. Investigators say the fire caused $270,000 in structural damage, $50,000 in content and $20,000 worth of damage to a car in the area.

One person was transported to University Medical Center Brackenridge. At least two other homes were affected by the explosion.

Clinton Fuller lives down the street and says the blast jolted him out of bed. He and a friend ran to check on those next to the burning home.

"The house was knocked over two-and-a-half to three feet, and all the windows were blown out," he said.

It took nearly three hours for crews to shut off natural gas to the neighborhood.

Besides keeping the fire contained to the one lot, firefighters worried the leak could spread underground.

"We don't believe the leak extends any more than 400-500 square feet around the original site. We're monitoring that, we are checking the houses on either side,” AFD Battalion Chief Thayer Smith said. “We are taking all the precautions we need to make sure the rest of the neighborhood is safe."

YNN's John Salazar speaks with a neighbor in the video below.

TWC News: Investigators: Gas leak to blame for fatal Central Austin fire
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Statement from Texas Gas Service

This morning, Texas Gas Service responded to fires at two residences on Payne Avenue, in which there was a fatality and an injury. Our thoughts and prayers are with those individuals and families affected by this event.

In connection with the incident, we are working with the Austin Fire Department, Austin Police Department, Railroad Commission of Texas, National Transportation Safety Board and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Natural gas service has been interrupted within a three-block area of Payne Avenue, from Arroyo Seco to Burnet Lane, affecting 73 residential customers. Our crews will continue to work throughout the night, and as long as it takes, to restore natural gas service to customers in this area, while ensuring their safety. We expect to restore natural gas service to the majority of the customers tonight. Customers need to be at home in order to have their natural gas service restored.

However, approximately 15 customers whose homes are located in the 1700 block of Payne Avenue will not have their natural gas service restored this evening. Temporary hotel accommodations are being made available to those customers.

We continue to investigate the incident, with the cooperation of authorities, with a primary focus on the safety and well-being of the community and our customers.

We will provide additional updates about this incident as appropriate.

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