Neighbors Wonder If Natural Gas Caused Tulsa Duplex Explosion

Monday, May 4th 2015, 8:16 pm
By: News On 6

A woman is recovering from serious injuries after she was thrown outside of her Tulsa duplex after it exploded and burst into flames over the weekend.

Fire investigators don't yet know what caused the explosion, but neighbors said they've smelled natural gas over the past few days.

The home, a charred shell of what it used to be, is still sectioned off with caution tape as fire investigators work to pinpoint an exact cause.

If it turns out to be a gas explosion, fire officials said the incident is a learning opportunity.

If you smell gas, act quickly because it could save your life.

Bernitra Waller was on the side of the duplex that's still standing.

“We felt a big boom and all the stuff just collapsed on us," Waller said.

She said because the house shook she initially thought it was an earthquake, but that changed when she saw the smoke and flames.

"We were just sitting there watching TV, literally, we just ‘wham' you know, and a matter of seconds we got out and that stuff was just gone," Waller said.

Neighbors like Mona Johnson said they've been smelling fumes and are on edge, wondering if a gas leak is to blame.

"It really scared me, ‘cause since that night, every time I walk pass my stove I check to make sure everything is turned off," Johnson said.

It's not clear if a natural gas leak is responsible, but it's possible.

Fire officials like Captain Stan May said if you smell gas don't wait around hoping it'll pass or that someone else will ask for help, he said get out and call 911.

“We don't charge to come out and look, we don't charge to come when we show up, so we rather show up and solve the problem early on than wait until something like this happens. We've got an injury, now we've got five people without a place to live," May said.

Oklahoma Natural Gas reports there are about 17,000 miles of gas lines in Oklahoma.

It said gas leaks happen but are rare.

ONG has added a chemical to the gas so you can smell it and said if you hear hissing or smell sulfur or rotten eggs to get out of the house, don't turn on lights or appliances and wait until you're outside to call the fire department.

"As in this case we'd rather show up a few hours early than a few minutes too late,” said May.

Fire official haven't released the victim's name, but said she's still in the hospital.

5/3/2015 Related Story: Explosion Throws Woman From Tulsa Duplex

When they finally get to interview the woman they'll be able to wrap up the investigation and figure out the cause.