Tue Jul 26 01:33:00 PDT 2016
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Natural gas leak may have led to explosion and fire
Ken Curtis

Investigators say they can’t determine right now what caused a massive explosion and fire in Headland that left a man with serious burns on much of his body. However, sources familiar with the probe say it is believed that a natural gas leak caused the blast that, Thursday, destroyed a home and businesses and damaged nearby structures. “This case is still under investigation but the one thing that I will say is there is no foul play involved in this,” Headland Police Chief Mark Jones said during a news conference held Friday. He does not rule out leaking gas but said it’s too soon to draw conclusions. However, others affiliated with the investigation, but not authorized to speak publicly about it, said a gas leak is almost certainly to blame. They said the Alabama Public Service Commission is now engaged in the probe along with several other state and local agencies. The PSC regulates public utilities. Jones said that the home owned by Spencer Wells once had natural gas service when a relative lived there. “Sometime between 2009 and 2011 gas was disconnected from (the) residence,” he said. A person involved in the investigation, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said workers from Southeast Alabama Gas District were told by investigators Thursday to leave the scene. An email seeking comment from the company was not immediately answered. Wells underwent surgery Friday in Atlanta for burns of varying degrees. While expected to survive, the road to recovery will be long. “He’s going to need a lot of prayer and we want to pray for him and his family,” Jones said. Wells suffered burns over half his body. Jones said Wells’ life, a member of a Christian band, was almost certainly spared because he was in the kitchen where the explosion originated. “The further away from the ignition point, the more intense the blast will be.” The explosion, and subsequent fire, also destroyed an adjacent antique business and damaged several other structures. At the hot dog business down the street chairs were toppled due to the force of the explosion. Other than Wells nobody was injured. Jones repeatedly expressed thanks for assistance received from the public and first responders from other agencies.

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