A Kansas Gas Service crew has found a leak in a main gas line near the house on North Minnesota that exploded and burned early Tuesday morning, critically injuring three people, a fire official said today.
But it’s still not clear if that leak is responsible for the blast and blaze that occurred shortly after 2 a.m. Tuesday, fire Capt. Stuart Bevis said.
“All we can say is we had some kind of an explosion,” Bevis said. “We had some kind of gas getting into the house.”
Willbert Reed Jr., 28, is in serious condition at the burn unit of Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis. Mikayla Frierson, 21, and Kymani Reed, 2, are in critical condition.
The house at 728 N. Minnesota had no utilities hooked up to it, Bevis said. The house is a former duplex owned by Reed’s parents, who live next door.
The family ran an extension cord from his parents’ house to their house “with a big extension cord, which we don’t recommend and it’s not safe,” Bevis said. “At this point we don’t know if that contributed to anything” related to the explosion and fire.
The family relied heavily on space heaters to keep warm, relatives have told investigators.
Now that Reed’s condition has improved, Bevis said, investigators hope to talk to him about the fire.
“We haven’t been able to interview anybody yet from the house,” he said.
The leak was found south of the house in a main gas line that runs parallel to the street, Bevis said. Kansas Gas Service crews have joined investigators from the fire department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in the investigation, and representatives from the Kansas Corporation Commission have been overseeing work done at the scene of the fire as well.
The investigation has been slowed by the fact the roof and multiple walls collapsed as a result of the blast and fire, Bevis said.
About 200 calls about gas odors in the city were called in to 911 in the five days leading up to the explosion and fire, he said, but there’s nothing to indicate they were related to the source of the blast.
“A lot of those are due to atmospheric conditions,” he said, and others were caused by manufacturing processes.