AUSTIN (KXAN) - Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services officials said a body was found inside a North Austin home flattened by an explosion Monday morning, where crews later worked to shut off a gas leak. At least one other person was injured.
Austin-Travis County EMS officials said on their Twitter account at 10:05 a.m. that they had no other details for release surrounding the person found at 1712 Payne Ave.
"We did not have a call of a gas leak. The first calls were of a house explosion," said Thayer Smith, with the Austin Fire Department. "Crews were on scene in just minutes, and there are obvious signs of an explosion with debris in the street."
A person from the house next door has been taken to the hospital with burns to his airway.
"We were here before the firefighters were, and it had moved the house next door 2- to 2 1/2 feet off its foundation," said Clinton Fuller, who lives on the block.
Witnesses said that the impact from the explosion could be felt as far away as a quarter-mile. The windows of the house next door were all blown out.
"We thought it was a transformer or tree that hit the house because it shook the whole house, the windows, everything," said Larissa Roberts, who lives a quarter-mile away.
"It looks like a bomb went off," another neighbor said.
"We don't know if the gas leak was caused by the explosion or if the explosion was caused by the gas leak, but it is a concern that we have gas migrating underground," said Smith.
Fire crews fought the blaze with five trucks, finally putting it out by 11:40 a.m.
Around 11:30 a.m., Texas Gas Service crews dug a hole down the street from the home and shut off the gas.
Gas crews said they believe the leak was contained to only the house that exploded and that other homes were not in danger of exploding.
Several residents said there had been a smell of gas out there for weeks, but fire officials said they never received a call about a gas leak.
"It was obvious there was a significant gas smell," said nearby resident Shirley Niedzwiecki, who said complaints had been made by many people in the neighborhood, including the man who lived at the destroyed home.
"That is part of the reason there was a big hole in front of his house," said Shirley. "Because they were trying to find the leak."
Neighbors also received flyers from a contractor stating that holes may be dug on their properties as workers tried to find the leak.
Texas Gas Service said it was working to restore service to as many customers as possible, but acknowledged that some would be without gas overnight.
"Approximately 15 customers whose homes are located in the 1700 block of Payne Avenue will not have their natural gas service restored this evening," the company late Monday afternoon. "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."
Ramona Nye of the Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees the natural gas industry, said the agency was notified by the gas company about the incident.
"Our Pipeline Safety Division will investigate this incident to determine if any pipeline safety rules that we administer were violated," Nye said.
A final report on the commission's investigation should be available within 90 days, Nye said.
The Texas Gas Service said it is reviewing what work had been done in the area.
Meanwhile, Arroyo Seco between Payne Avenue and Goodnight Lane was blocked for much of the morning.
The explosion caused $270,000 in damage, including $20,000 to a vehicle, at 1712 Payne St. The house at 1710 Payne St. sustained $50,000 in structural damage.
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