By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer
Site maintenance and investigation continues following an explosion that leveled a house at 221 W. Tennie St. in Gainesville on Jan. 24.
But new details were made available Tuesday by a regulatory agency.
The explosion — an injury-free disaster, owing to an emergency evacuation of Tennie Street homes by Atmos Energy employees — was triggered at 7 a.m. Jan. 24, by a natural gas leak on the home’s property.
The leak was first discovered by City of Gainesville employees while they repaired a faulty water line hours before sunrise.
The gas leak and the explosion’s spark of ignition are still being investigated by local and state authorities. Gainesville officials, plus agents of Atmos Energy and the Railroad Commission of Texas, are reportedly conducting separate inspections.
Jody Henry of the Gainesville Fire Department said he couldn’t release any details about the explosion or damages, due to investigative policy. City Manager Barry Sullivan said city employees are managing the site since it still requires utility and street support.
“Once we have a final report, it’ll be submitted to the proper authorities,” Sullivan said Tuesday.
Gaye McElwain of the Railroad Commission of Texas, who also deemed the investigation “ongoing,” released a preliminary incident report from the commission that at least indicates the gas leak’s cause.
This report was e-mailed to the Register Tuesday afternoon, was dated and revised on Thursday, Jan. 24, and reads exactly:
“The City of Gainesville water utility crew was on scene for a leaking water line. During the repair of the line, water leaked and created a sink hole which caused a truck in the area to start sinking. When the truck started sinking it ripped the service line out of the service tap which led to the release of natural gas. The incident occurred at approximately at 05:30am and Atmos Energy was onsite by 05:41am to shut off gas to the service line and begin repairs. The leak was stopped and the area was made safe at 12:00pm.
“Atmos is in the process of shutting off gas to main line. Locates were called in as an emergency locate ticket. About 0530 is when line was cut and Atmos was called out to shut off gas to the service line. At about 7am the explosion occurred and first responders were onsite about 7:02am. RRC inspector J.W. Riley arrived onsite about 09:35am along with Goodluck and Eliel. There has been no fatalities or injuries reported as of 10:15am. Area has been made safe and awaiting further updates.”
Sullivan said later Tuesday that the commission’s report is indeed similar to the city’s own preliminary report, which has been submitted to the commission in accordance with a policy that a report must be sent within 10 days of the incident in question.
“All in all, at the end of the day, I think the railroad commission report will show that that is what happened,” he said.