highland hills apartments

Man Arrested, Charged in Connection With Apartment Explosion That Injured 8

Two firefighters remain hospitalized following the September blast at a Southeast Dallas apartment building

NBCUniversal, Inc.

A man is behind bars, accused of firing a gun that contributed to a natural gas explosion at a Southeast Dallas apartment complex that injured eight people last month, including four Dallas firefighters, Dallas police say.

Tuesday afternoon, Dallas police confirmed they charged 28-year-old Phillip Dankins with seven counts of deadly conduct related to the Sept. 29 explosion.

A Dallas man is in jail, facing several charges in connection with that gas explosion at the Highland Hills apartment complex last month. Eight people were hurt including four firefighters and many more lost their homes and prized possessions.

Dallas Fire-Rescue confirmed Tuesday evening that Dankins fired into a vacant apartment at the Highland Hills Apartments and severed a gas line connected to an oven, leading to the gas leak.

The next morning, after residents called 911 to report the smell of natural gas, firefighters with Dallas Fire-Rescue arrived to investigate the smell.

Maria Guerrero, NBC 5 News
Crews sift through the debris after an apartment building in Dallas was razed after an explosion. Photo taken Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021.

As firefighters searched the community, an explosion partially collapsed one apartment building, damaged another, and injured eight people, including four residents and four firefighters.

Due to the damage that was done by the explosion the apartment building was demolished later that day. Residents told NBC 5 they suspected gunfire the night before may have caused a gas leak that led to the explosion.

During the course of the investigation, a bullet was found at the blast site that KRLD reported matched a gun in Dankins' possession when he was arrested this month.

Dankins, who police said is in custody on a family violence warrant, is now facing seven deadly conduct charges in connection with the explosion.

NBC 5 News
Phillip Dankins, 28, is accused of deadly conduct after police say he fired a gun that led to a gas leak.

Three Dallas firefighters were critically injured in the blast. One of the three firefighters was discharged last week while two remain hospitalized. The four residents and fourth firefighter suffered only minor injuries.

With water and utility services cut off after the blast, more than 150 people who called the complex home were temporarily relocated while the damaged building was removed and utility services restored.

What specifically triggered the gas to ignite has not yet been confirmed by investigators.

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Dallas Chief of Police Eddie Garcia said the arrest was made possible by the "dedicated work of Dallas Fire-Rescue Arson Investigators, Dallas Police Department Investigators, and Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Agents."

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