On February 23, 2018, about 6:38 a.m. local time, a natural gas-fueled explosion occurred at 3534 Espanola Drive, Dallas, Texas, injuring all five occupants, one fatally. The one-story two-bedroom residence sustained major structural damage. Following the explosion, National Transportation Safety Board investigators located a through-wall crack in the 71-year-old natural gas main that served the residence and positive gas measurements leading from this crack to the residence.
In the 2 days before this explosion, two gas-related incidents occurred on the same block at houses that were served by the same natural gas main, each resulting in significant structural damage and burn injuries to one occupant. The first occurred on February 21, 2018, at 5:49 a.m., and resulted in one injury involving second-degree burns and significant structural damage to 3527 Durango Drive. The second incident occurred on February 22, 2018, at 10:21 a.m., and resulted in one injury involving second-degree burns and significant structural damage to 3515 Durango Drive.
The probable cause of the explosion at 3534 Espanola Drive was the ignition of an accumulation of natural gas that leaked from the gas main that was damaged during a sewer replacement project 23 years earlier and was undetected by Atmos Energy Corporation’s investigation of two related natural gas incidents on the 2 days prior to the explosion. Contributing to the explosion was Atmos Energy Corporation’s insufficient wet weather leak investigation procedures. Contributing to the severity of the explosion was Atmos Energy Corporation’s inaction to isolate the affected main and evacuate the houses. Contributing to the degradation of the pipeline system was Atmos Energy Corporation’s inadequate integrity management program.
We made recommendations to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the Railroad Commission of Texas, the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department, Atmos Energy Corporation, and the Gas Piping Technology Committee. We reiterated previously issued recommendations to the International Code Council, the National Fire Protection Association, and the Gas Technology Institute.