Girl Burned After House Explosion in North Richland Hills

Atmos Energy investigating cause of explosion

By Chris Van Horne
|  Monday, Dec 23, 2013  |  Updated 10:09 AM CDT
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A family is in shock and a young girl is at Parkland Hospital after being badly burned in an explosion in North Richland Hills on Saturday afternoon. The explosion happened around 4:06 p.m. inside a home in the 7900 block of Harwood Road just east of Davis Road.

Chris Van Horne, NBC 5 News

A family is in shock and a young girl is at Parkland Hospital after being badly burned in an explosion in North Richland Hills on Saturday afternoon. The explosion happened around 4:06 p.m. inside a home in the 7900 block of Harwood Road just east of Davis Road.

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A family is in shock and a young girl is at Parkland Hospital after being badly burned in an explosion in North Richland Hills on Saturday afternoon.

The explosion happened around 4:06 p.m. inside a home in the 7900 block of Harwood Road just east of Davis Road.

Seven people were inside the house at the time of the explosion, but only one young girl was injured.

Marvin Reinoshek says his eight-year-old niece Maya Javier was badly burned in the blast, but that she was talking and able to move after the explosion.

"It just blew out all the windows," Reinoshek said. "I had to get the door--the bathroom door off of my niece then get her outside."

Javier was visiting for what was supposed to be a happy holiday celebration for a few days, but instead four days before Christmas it's a family nightmare.

"All I could do was hold her until they (paramedics) got there," Reinoshek said. "I didn't know what to do, I was in shock myself. I've never been through something like that."

He says Javier went to use the bathroom and when she turned on the light, what may end up being natural gas exploded.

"We heard a boom and it knocked us on the floor, it knocked me on the floor," he said.

And while the outside damaged doesn't look extreme, Reinoshek says the blast destroyed the family's home for the last decade.

"It's in shambles, it's pretty bad inside there," he said. "The hallway is gone."

Most concerning though is the injury to Javier, the only one injured.

"She's burnt pretty good," her uncle said.

North Richland Hills Fire estimates she has burns on 40-percent of her body. Reinoshek said she suffered second degree burns.

"Any burn at this point in time, it's going to be hard on the victim," Assistant Fire Chief Kirk Marcum said.

Marcum said there was little fire damage from the blast, but that it blew out the windows of the home. The Red Cross arrived to help get the family shelter for the night, but Reinoshek was mostly concerned for his niece.

"Pray for her, that's all we can do now," he said.

It appears that natural gas is the culprit behind the explosion. Two hours after the blast NBC 5 crews on scene could still smell natural gas.

Chief Marcum said that as of 6:30 p.m. Atmos Energy had still not turned off the gas. Investigators from Atmos were on scene checking to determine the source of the blast and if there was indeed a natural gas leak.

Atmos evacuated homes on either side of the Reinoshek family home out of safety concerns. At one point firefighters went door to door at the Arts Apartment Complex across the street checking on residents to make sure none of them had any natural gas problems.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family affected by today’s events, especially the young girl who was injured” said Jennifer Ryan, Atmos Energy Spokesperson said in a press release. “It is too soon to tell what lead to this incident, but we can assure everyone that Atmos Energy has trained technicians on the ground tonight to make sure the neighborhood is safe.”

Ryan told NBC 5 at the scene that Atmos would take care of the three effected homeowners with supplies and a place to stay as they continue to investigate.

Fire officials have not said whether anyone could smell natural gas before the blast. Ryan says that if anyone does smell gas that they should immediately leave the area and call 911 or the Atmos emergency line at 1.866.322.8667. Ryan says that turning on a light switch or even using your cell phone could ignite the gas.

Javier is from Bridgeport. Her uncle says her mother is with her at Parkland Hospital.

Earlier this week a woman's home exploded in Azle. No one was home or injured in that blast. However, the incident in Azle is distinctly different from what happened in North Richland Hills.

While the North Richland Hills incident appears to be natural gas related, although that hasn't officially been determined, the Azle incident was related to propane gas that the homeowner had installed at the property.

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