AUSTIN -- One person has died in a home explosion in North Austin.
Austin Fire Department Battalion Chief Thayer Smith says a 911 call came in just before 8:30 a.m. Monday. Crews found a home at 1712 Payne Avenue fully engulfed in flames.
Fire officials ruled that an accidental natural gas leak is the cause of the explosion.
"I got my shoes and my jacket on, and I ran out and came to the corner here," neighbor Clinton Fuller said. "That's when we noticed that the whole house was flat and there was a bunch of debris and stuff in the road. And I looked at the house next door, and I noticed that all the windows were blown out of it, and I saw a little fire, and it looked like it was under the house."
According to Austin-Travis County EMS, paramedics found an unidentified body inside the home. Neighbors say a father of one lived inside. They say he lived by himself and moved in within the past year, and that he has an eight-year-old son who lives in Houston with his mother. They also told KVUE News that he complained about a gas leak in front of the home around Thanksgiving. Neighbors were not sure if the leak had been repaired.
According to tax records the home belongs to Renald Ferrovecchio, however, fire officials can not confirm the body found inside the home is his body.
The house next door was also on fire when crews arrived. A resident inside was taken to the hospital with critical respiratory injuries.
Several other houses in the area were evacuated because of the gas leak. This caused a problem for firefighters who had to wait until the gas was shut off before investigating. The gas was turned off just before noon.
The Texas Gast Service released the following statement Monday regarding the fire:
"This morning, Texas Gas Service responded to fires at two residences on Payne Avenue, in which there was a fatality and an injury. Our thoughts and prayers are with those individuals and families affected by this event.
In connection with the incident, we are working with the Austin Fire Department, Austin Police Department, Railroad Commission of Texas, National Transportation Safety Board and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
Natural gas service has been interrupted within a three-block area of Payne Avenue, from Arroyo Seco to Burnet Lane, affecting 73 residential customers. Our crews will continue to work throughout the night, and as long as it takes, to restore natural gas service to customers in this area, while ensuring their safety. We expect to restore natural gas service to the majority of the customers tonight. Customers need to be at home in order to have their natural gas service restored.
However, approximately 15 customers whose homes are located in the 1700 block of Payne Avenue will not have their natural gas service restored this evening. Temporary hotel accommodations are being made available to those customers.
We continue to investigate the incident, with the cooperation of authorities, with a primary focus on the safety and well-being of the community and our customers.
We will provide additional updates about this incident as appropriate."
The Red Cross is offering assistance to any families who will not have heat Monday night.
Now a neighborhood is waiting for answers to find out what caused the deadly explosion.
The Austin Fire Department released initial damage estimates Monday afternoon. The total damage at 1712 Payne Avenue is estimated at $270,000 including the structure, contents, and car.
Leaking gas is something to take very seriously. If you smell even a faint odor or hear a hissing noise do the following:
- Leave your home immediately.
- Do not turn appliances or lights on or off and don't use the phone. That can spark an explosion.
- Once outside call 911 or 1-800-959-LEAK.
- Do not return home until someone certified tells you it's safe.