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Early Report Finds NRH House Explosion Caused By Gas Leak

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jennifer Lindgren
Jennifer joined CBS 11 News in September 2013. For her, the move ...
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NORTH RICHLAND HILLS (CBSDFW.COM) - A North Richland Hills family is still waiting for answers as to what caused an explosion at their home before Christmas, seriously injuring a child.

Marvin Reinoshek and his wife, three children, niece and a friend were at home on Harwood Road the Saturday before Christmas.  Reinoshek says his niece, Maya Javier, flipped on a bathroom light switch and the explosion then occurred.

The force blew out windows and knocked down interior walls.  Maya was burned over 40 percent of her body.  She’s home from the hospital but her uncle says, she still has a long road of recovery ahead.

“She’s getting better but she’s still in a lot of pain,” Reinoshek said.

Soon after the explosion, Atmos Energy found a leak in an underground pipe out front of the home.  Atmos has not tied the gas leak to the cause of the explosion, but the initial investigation by the Texas Railroad Commission does.

In a preliminary findings into the house explosion, the Texas Railroad Commission cites an Atmos Energy equipment failure as the cause of the house explosion.

The report states, “The preliminary investigation points to the direction of a natural gas leak from a failed butt fusion on a 6-inch Polyethylene main.”

A spokesperson for Atmos Energy declined to comment on the RRC findings, saying the report is very preliminary, and the natural gas company’s own investigation is ongoing.

As more people are using natural gas to heat their homes in the cold winter months, Jennifer Ryan says the company is reminding people of the signs of a leak.

“Listen for a hissing noise. You should also look and see if there’s any dead grass around where the gas meters are.  That’s a good indication there is a problem,” Ryan said.

One of the most recognizable indications of natural gas, is the smell. Natural gas is odorless, but the chemical Mercaptan is added, giving it the rotten egg smell.

Atmos Energy sends out small ‘scratch and sniff’ brochures inserted with customers’ month energy bills, so people can learn the distinguishing odor.

“So if you smell it, you know there may be some danger.  Perhaps a leak. [You'll] want to leave the area immediately and call 911,” Ryan said.

Reinoshek says he is familiar with the odor of natural gas, and he maintains, he didn’t smell anything leading up to the explosion.

“I’m pretty aware of what it smelled like, and that wasn’t it,” Reinoshek said.

A spokesperson for the Texas Railroad Commission says the RRC will have an update on the explosion investigation in approximately 90 days.

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