DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – More evacuations this morning in a Northwest Dallas neighborhood where there were two fires, several natural gas leaks and a deadly house explosion.

Before sunrise crews with Atmos Energy were out knocking on doors on Bowman Boulevard, near Walnut Hill Lane, and telling residents to leave. A CBS 11 News crew in the area also reported the smell of gas in the area.

The newly discovered gas leaks forced dozens of residents to grab what they could and quickly make their way out into the dark. It’s not clear if the evacuations are mandatory, but crews began waking up residents and asking them to leave sometime after 3:00 a.m.

It was less than 12 hours before when a gas leak in front of Dallas Fire Station 43, in the 2800 block of Lombardy Lane, resulted in the station being evacuated. The leak was detected around 7:00 p.m. Tuesday as crews with Atmos continued their work surveying the area near the house explosion site on Espanola Drive.

The explosion and leaks have left residents in the neighborhood on edge. Before this morning’s evacuations there were already more than 300 people out of their homes because of mandatory evacuations or fear.

City leaders tried to address those fears during a community meeting on Tuesday evening, but it was more of a verbal beatdown as residents demand to know why gas leaks caused the fires and explosion that killed young Linda Rogers in her home.

“How can we trust y’all,” one resident asked. Another turned her attention to the city council representatives in attendance asking, “What are they going to do to make sure Atmos does their job.”
Over and over, fearful and frustrated residents aired their grievances and demanded to know how gas leaks were ignored, culminating in the Friday morning explosion that killed 12-year-old Rogers.
Bertha Benitiz attended the meeting to tell officials with Atmos, face-to-face, that she called to report a gas leak on February 16 — one week before the explosion. She said the flame on her gas stove was red instead of blue and that Atmos never sent anyone. After hearing her story, an Atmos representative promised to send a technical over to inspect her house.

After the tongue lashing, Atmos spokesperson Jennifer Altieri, who for days has refused to react to residents’ concerns about safety, finally acknowledged there’s a problem. “We have to work with you to rebuild trust. We understand that,” she said.

Atmos officials said the safety measures now being taken are part of rebuilding that trust. The gas provider is also replacing nearly three miles of natural gas pipelines as part of their effort to returning gas service to customers in the area.