A Cleburne family, the Pawliks, whose house exploded after odorless natural gas seeped into their home through a leaking gas main and a faulty air conditioning condensation line, has reached a settlement with Atmos Energy. The terms of the settlement are confidential.
The lawsuit alleged that Atmos did not inspect or maintain the gas lines.
Officials from Atmos Energy also declined to discuss the terms of the settlement. The man’s wife, Hazel, 64, and daughter, Hazel Sanderson, 44, died after being severely burned.
On May 29, 2007, two explosions rocked the Pawliks’ home about 45 minutes after David Pawlik contacted the Cleburne Fire Department’s nonemergency number and reported seeing blue flames shooting to the ceiling after his wife lit cigarettes.
The Fire Department told Pawlik not to light any more cigarettes and that an inspector would check on the situation.
Hazel Pawlik wanted to smoke a quick cigarette before the fire inspector arrived. When she lit the match, there was a flash, and the match went out. She lit another match, and there was an explosion and fire. A few seconds later, a second explosion tore a hole in the roof.
The fire marshal’s report indicated that a natural gas main in front of the Pawliks’ home had been leaking for an undetermined amount of time, and that gas had seeped into soil saturated by heavy rains. The wet soil trapped the gas, and it leaked into a sewer system, and a line from an air conditioning unit acted like a pump, drawing the gas into the home. The air conditioning system circulated the gas throughout the house.
An odorant that is added to natural gas for safety was washed away as the gas traveled through the soil and into the sewer system.
The Pawliks’ home was all electric; the family did not have gas service.
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