In the minutes after a Waxahachie blast, the home was reduced to rubble by a violent explosion Monday morning, neighbors here and around North Texas wondered who was to blame for hurting three people, damaging several homes, and putting the entire subdivision at risk.
On Tuesday, we got our first clue.
In a statement, Atmos Energy announced that its natural gas lines in the Saddlebrook Estates community were given the “all clear” and residents were welcome to return to the they had evacuated after the blast.
Atmos spokeswoman Jennifer Alteri added that workers “discovered evidence of substantial third-party damage to a natural gas line” very close to the epicenter of the explosion at a home on Arabian Road.
The Waxahachie fire chief and fire marshal confirmed damage to not only the natural gas line, but also a sewer pipe running to the home that sustained the heaviest damage.
A quick look around the neighborhood shows dozens of flags in the ground — yellow to mark Atmos gas lines and orange for AT&T digital cables. AT&T confirmed it has been doing work in the area, and the marker flags can often be seen right next to one other.
The Dallas-based telecommunications company said late Tuesday that it was speaking with the contractor it hired to do construction in that neighborhood, and will pass along any information to authorities.
Neither Atmos nor the fire department will name who they think may be at fault.
As for those who the blast hurt most, recovery continues. Adele Chavez remains at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, where she had surgery for third-degree burns.
Youth pastor Nathan Grant is part of Chavez’ church family from Refiners Fire Ministries in Ennis. They and her family members were providing support for Chavez and her brother Jamie, who also survived the blast. His burns were not as serious, and he was scheduled to be released from the hospital on Wednesday.
“After that, they’re going to take a look at what the big prayer needs are, and what the financial needs are as well,” Grant said.
The Chavez family no longer has a home to return to, and the battle over who’s to blame is just taking shape.
In the meantime, Waxahachie firefighters and police officers helped more than two dozen families get back to their homes on Tuesday afternoon after the area was deemed safe by the city.
Atmos told WFAA that it is not required by law to be present when a third party is excavating near its lines. However, a company can request Atmos to be there.
Even so, Atmos said it gets upwards of 5,000 of those site requests every day, so their representatives can’t be at all of them.
Atmos said AT&T never called for its linemen to supervise work being done in the Saddlebrook Estates neighborhood.
According to WFAA on September 22nd, 2015