Evacuation Order Lifted Following Waxahachie Explosion

An evacuation order given to a Waxahachie neighborhood has been lifted Tuesday a day after an explosion destroyed a house and left a sister and brother hospitalized.

Atmos Energy said they do not believe they had a system failure in the blast and that an inspection for possible natural gas leaks, following Monday morning's explosion, found evidence of third-party damage to a line near the home. Atmos did not elaborate and said the investigation continues to determine the cause of the blast.

"The investigation has basically led us to being in unison with Atmos," said Waxahachie Fire Marshal Denis Crecelius.

Crecelius tells NBC 5 a gas line was cut and a nearby sewer line damaged.

"We're not ready to say exactly what caused the breach," said Waxahachie Fire Chief Ricky Boyd.

The homes on either side of the blast site need to be inspected by a structural engineer before those families can return, according to the fire chief, but people can go back to the bulk of the homes previously evacuated.

"We found a gas line that runs under the sidewalk to the other side of the street, which is actually 112 – this is the gas line to their house – this gas line was still actually had a little bit of gas in it when they uncovered it. As they progressed down, the sewer line was also hit, the sewer line led to 113, which is the house that actually exploded," Crecelius said.

Crecelius went on to say, "In our estimate, what we are figuring is we had a gas leak there, the gas permeated through the soil into that sewer line."

The family told investigators their toilet was boiling Sunday evening, and there was a strange smell in the home.

"The lady could smell something in her house she wasn't exactly sure what it was but there was a different odor in the house," Crecelius said.

The day of the explosion the homeowner turned on either the oven or the stove and the home exploded, according to Crecelius.

An AT&T spokesperson released the following statement Tuesday:

"Our first concern remains with the families affected by this accident. We are working with authorities, as well as the contractor doing construction for our project in the area, to provide details needed for the ongoing investigation."

Explosion Destroys Home, Severely Injures Two

A home in the Saddlebrook Estates subdivision exploded at about 8 a.m. Monday, damaging nine other homes and injuring two people.

A woman — identified as 65-year-old Adele Chavez — sustained second- and third-degree burns on 35 percent of her body. She is expected to undergo surgery Tuesday afternoon at Parkland Memorial Hospital.

According to Chavez's daughter, Cynthia Serna, Chavez has five children and 15 grandchildren. She is also the caretaker for her younger brother, 49-year-old Jaymie Rodriguez, who suffered minor burns in the blast. Rodriguez is expected to be released from the hospital Wednesday.

A spokesperson for Parkland said Chavez is in fair condition Tuesday and that Rodriguez is in good condition.

The American Red Cross is assisting the residents of Saddlebrook Estates who have been evacuated from their homes since the blast. Meanwhile, Atmos Energy continues to work to determine what caused the explosion.

"Atmos Energy operates an emergency dispatch center 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you smell gas, we urge you to leave the area immediately and call 1-866-322-8667 or 911," said Jennifer Altieri, with Atmos Energy.

NBC 5's Jeff Smith and Jocelyn Lockwood contributed to this report.

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