24 Gilbert homes evacuated after blast

GILBERT, AZ - Residents are slowly returning home after a gas explosion evacuated an entire neighborhood in Gilbert Sunday.

One man was seriously injured in the blast after he apparently lit a cigarette in his garage.

Fire Department spokesman Brian Ruffentine said the man is hospitalized with serious burns on his chest, legs, arms, hands and face.

The explosion caused little structural damage to the home, but blew out the garage door.

In total, 24 houses were evacuated. Fire officials say the blast was caused by a leak in the natural gas pipe, that is buried under these homes and feeds to another neighborhood.

Some residents were allowed to return home starting around 10:30 Monday morning. Each family was escorted by firefighters to make sure they were safe.

According to Ruffentine, the home where the explosion occurred doesn't receive natural gas service, but said that a gas pipe travels through the area.

Southwest Gas spokeswoman Amy Washburn says they've capped the leak. Washburn says no more gas has been detected in the area and said community is safe.

Officials say six homes still remain under evacuation.

Southwest Gas would not comment on any liability issues at this time.


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