A young girl is dead after a natural gas explosion destroyed her Dallas home early Friday morning, Atmos Energy confirms. Additionally, the girl’s neighborhood and a nearby school are under an evacuation order until the area is deemed safe.
The girl was identified by the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office as 12-year-old Linda “Michellita” Rogers; her cause of death is expected to be released Saturday.
Four other people who were in the home were also hospitalized at Parkland in unknown conditions.
“This is the third such incident related to a gas explosion over the last three days,” said Dallas Fire-Rescue’s Jason Evans.
Evans said DFR is working with Atmos officials to determine what caused the explosion at about 6:30 a.m. at a home in the 3500 block of Espanola Drive, as well as two other incidents over the last 48 hours at homes in the same area.
Video from the scene Friday showed major damage to a home with debris scattered onto neighboring houses. A baby doll could be seen in the rubble.
“Oh, my God, I’m just sleeping this morning, and it just shakes my house — boom — like that,” said neighbor Anna Lopez.
Neighbors believe there was warning of a problem. The two other explosions occurred directly behind the location of Friday’s explosion.
One of the previous nearby incidents involved a man who said the flame on the stove flared unexpectedly, and the other was an explosion of a gas heater in the back of a home. One person was hospitalized in the second incident.
An NBC 5 viewer reported that another house exploded Thursday morning in the 3500 block of Durango Drive; those incidents remain under investigation.
Neighbors tell NBC 5 on Thursday they saw Atmos crews digging down the street from Friday’s explosion.
Mandatory evacuations were issued to residents living in homes three blocks to the north and three blocks to the south, which includes Espanola Drive and Durango Drive.
“They should have done that before the third house blew up,” said neighbor Rodney Hohenberger.
While the gas leak and explosion are investigated, officials also ordered the evacuation of 700 students at Stephen C. Foster Elementary School. Pre-K students through second graders are being moved to Carey Middle School and third through fifth graders are being moved to Thomas Jefferson High School, officials said.
Friday afternoon Atmos Energy released a statement from company president and CEO Mike Haefner, who said, “We are deeply saddened by the death of the young girl at 3534 Espanola Drive this morning. We express our sincere heartfelt condolences to her family.”
Haefner added that the safety of the residents and first responders is their highest concern and that they will provide a detailed assessment of the situation, including when service will be restored to the area, as soon as they can.
Atmos says it is working with displaced residents and providing overnight lodging for people unable to return home.