DALLAS, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) — On the eve of the two year anniversary of a deadly explosion in Northwest Dallas, neighbors expressed mixed feelings about a proposed rate hike by Atmos Energy to cover the cost of replacing old gas lines.
Every day, Deanna Ward sees the empty lot across the street where 12-year-old Linda Rogers’ home once stood.
“I remember that my house shook,” she said. “And I looked over there and it was caved in. Blown out from the sides.”
Her heart sank.
“I knew they were in there,” she said.
Linda was recording herself getting ready for a cheerleading competition when the house exploded.
The video captured what look like a streak of sparks followed by darkness.
“They were digging through the debris looking for her,” Deanna recalled. “When they found their daughter, the crying…”
It was the third fire in three days on the same block Dallas Fire-Rescue linked to natural gas.
Amid calls to replace aging gas lines, Atmos Energy says it spent $200 million last year in the city of Dallas and replaced more than a hundred miles of steel and cast iron pipes.
To help cover the cost of improvements, it’s asking the city of Dallas to approve an $18 million rate hike, averaging an extra 5 and a half dollars a month for homeowners.
“So the whole of Dallas has to pay for their mistake?” Deanna asked. “No, I think the stock owners should take a bite out of this.”
A block away, Elena Garcia still doesn’t feel safe turning on her stove.
Her now 2-year-old granddaughter was only a week old when they were forced to evacuate for weeks as a result of the fires.
“Five dollars is fine,” she said.
What matters, she said, is people will be safer.
The city of Dallas is now reviewing Atmos’ request. The council will vote in May and if it doesn’t reach an agreement with Atmos, the company can appeal to the Texas Railroad Commission.