The evening before a house exploded in northwest Dallas and killed a 12-year-old girl, Atmos Energy crews were investigating and repairing gas leaks directly behind the house, company emails obtained by The Dallas Morning News show.
The emails also show that Atmos discovered at least 28 leaks in the neighborhood in the two days after the home blew up.
About 12 hours before the explosion, an email from an Atmos Energy employee to the Texas Railroad Commission described how the company had been “monitoring a situation in a residential area of Dallas near Love Field airport.’’ Atmos was investigating two separate leaks involving house fires and “measured gas was potentially a factor in both.”
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At about the same time, neigbhor Juan Armillo said Atmos Workers knocked on his door saying they had detected a gas leak in his backyard. Armillo said crews worked from 7:00 p.m. Thursday, February 22 until 2:00 a.m. Friday. Less than five hours later, the deadly house explosion happened across the alley, about a block away.
"It could have been my kid," said Armilla. "It's not like it was somebody else's gas leak. The gas leak was in the backyard and they coulda said, you know what, evacuate your houses. There's a gas leak. But they didn't."
Armilla said he doesn't trust Atmos. "Of course I'm mad. I'm more than mad. I'm emotionally distressed," he said. "That little girl didn't have to die."
After those emails were released, investigators were back at the home on Espanola Saturday.
Atmos Energy released a statement to NBC 5 Friday night. It read, "The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is leading the investigation into the incident on Espanola Drive and the days leading up to that incident. Atmos Energy is following federal guidelines that state the NTSB is the contact for questions."