What there is to know
- Firefighters were investigating a natural gas leak when the explosion occurred. Residents said a leak was noticed on Tuesday evening.
- Four firefighters and four residents are hospitalized; three firefighters are in critical condition and one is laid off. The residents are in stable condition and three are expected to be released on Wednesday.
- Two-storey apartment building partially collapses; adjacent buildings damaged.
Four firefighters and four residents were injured Wednesday morning when an apartment building in southeast Dallas partially collapsed after an explosion.
Jason Evans of Dallas Fire-Rescue told NBC 5 that firefighters were called to the Highland Hills apartments around 10:21 a.m. over a natural gas leak. Firefighters arrived and confirmed the smell of natural gas in a building near the entrance.
While firefighters were investigating, an explosion occurred causing a building to partially collapse and send debris flying 20-30 meters away.
The eight people injured in the blast were taken to local hospitals for assessment and treatment of various injuries.
Three of the firefighters remain in critical condition while a fourth was released after being treated for a minor foot injury. Fire chief Dominique Artis said on Wednesday afternoon that the four firefighters were at the same station and that the three who remain hospitalized are receiving intensive care.
All civilians injured in the blast are also said to be in stable condition and three of them are expected to be sent home on Wednesday.
A video from the Texas Sky Ranger shows how a building in southeast Dallas partially collapsed Wednesday morning after a natural gas explosion.
More details on the conditions of the injured firefighters are not yet known. Although Evans said, “When you face an explosion that can cause so much damage to a two-story apartment building, you can only imagine what it can do to a human body.”
The explosion caused the partial collapse of a two-story building at one end. The windows of the adjacent buildings were blown out and the bricks of the facade were torn from the walls. The explosion caused extensive damage in the immediate vicinity.
While the explosion appears to have damaged at least two other buildings, firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze before it consumed the building or spread to adjacent buildings.
Dallas Fire-Rescue brought its urban search and rescue team to the area to search for the debris, but no other injured people were located and everyone living in the building was found.
The apartment community is located in the 5700 block of Highland Hills Drive, near the intersection of Simpson Stuart and Bonnie View roads and not far from Paul Quinn College. Traffic along Highland Hills Drive was blocked during the scene investigation.
It is not known if there is an active gas leak in the area. Oncor teams were seen at the complex late Wednesday morning.
There is no information on what specifically caused the explosion. Dallas Fire-Rescue said the explosion will be a joint investigation involving the DFR and several local, state and federal agencies to determine exactly what happened.
Evans added that it is extremely important for people to call 911 if they smell natural gas, saying “we have the equipment to investigate and determine where it is coming from.”
Dozens of people were seen standing near apartment buildings watching the situation unfold. The Red Cross was called in to help residents affected by the blast.
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