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Sandman Hotel Explosion Investigation Continues As Atmos Energy Concerns Mount

As investigators continue their work to determine exactly what caused last month’s devastating Sandman Signature Hotel explosion in downtown Fort Worth, Atmos Energy is facing new scrutiny over the safety of its pipeline distribution system and the proximity of its lines to some of the worst natural gas explosions to hit North Texas in the last several years.

Sandman Hotel Explosion Injured Over 2 Dozen

The January 16th explosion in the basement of the Sandman Hotel injured nearly two dozen people. Two floors of the historic W.T. Waggoner Building fall into the subbasement, propelling shattered glass and part of the facade onto 8th and Houston Streets.  

Investigators initially blamed a natural gas leak for the blast, but an official cause has yet to be determined. Atmos Energy maintains that there is “no indication” that any of its equipment or gas lines were involved and has asked a court to absolve it of blame in the face of mounting litigation against the company, the building owner and others.

However, the Sandman Hotel disaster is not the first North Texas natural gas explosion to occur near Atmos Energy pipelines.

6 Explosions Near Atmos Energy Pipelines in 6 Years

According to a newly published investigation from the Dallas Morning News, records from the Texas Railroad Commission indicate that at least six other structures have exploded near Atmos-owned distribution lines across North Texas since early 2019, leaving two people dead and injuring more than a dozen others.

  • January 2022: An unoccupied house in Arlington exploded, sending a passerby to the hospital.
  • August 2022: A house exploded in Garland, killing two people and sending five others to the hospital.
  • December 2022: A house explosion in Westworth Village sent one man to the hospital.
  • July 2021: An explosion at a house in Plano injured six people, including three children.
  • June 2021: An explosion at an Atmos facility in Farmersville killed two contractors and injured two others.
  • November 2020: A pipeline fire near Highland Park High School injured two Atmos employees.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Atmos Energy was not found to be at fault in any of these cases. However, the company later abandoned or replaced some service lines near residences where explosions occurred. The state also cited Atmos for violations in connection with two of the incidents.

Atmos Energy’s History of Violations and Lawsuits

Following the fatal Farmville explosion, the Railroad Commission cited Atmos Energy for a lack of written procedures for operations, maintenance activities and emergency response and a failure to replace unsafe pipeline sections. The Commission also cited the company for similar violations involving written procedures after the Highland Park explosion.

A previous Dallas Morning News investigation, published in 2018, found that gas leaks along Atmos lines had caused more than two dozen Texas homes to blow up since 2006, killing nine people and injuring more than 20, Those incidents included a horrific blast that claimed the life of a 12-year-old girl as she was getting ready for school in her North Dallas home. Atmos Energy was later faulted for failing to identify natural gas leaks in the neighborhood ahead of the blast. The investigation also raised questions about the Railroad Commission’s oversight of Atmos Energy, with the Morning News noting that while the regulator had cited its mid-Texas division for more than 2,000 alleged safety violations over the course of a decade, the company ultimately paid out less than $250,000 in penalties.

Shortly after the Sandman Hotel Explosion,  Ryan Zehl, founder and managing partner of Zehl & Associates, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that Atmos has “one of the oldest, most antiquated pipelines in the country; over 800 miles of their pipelines are still made of steel and cast iron, and that is highly susceptible to corrosion,” potentially leaving the company open to legal claims in the event of a natural gas explosion.

In fact, by the time Morning News published its first investigation, Atmos had settled at least a dozen lawsuits filed by explosion victims. Since then, the company has settled at least two others, including one related to the 12-year-old girl’s death in North Dallas and another stemming from the fatal Farmersville explosion.

Atmos Pipeline Explosion Lawyers: Call 1-888-603-3636 for a Free Consult

Our Pipeline Explosion Lawyers are representing 19 hotel employees and guests who were seriously injured in last month’s devastating blast at the Sandman Hotel and working with safety experts and state and local authorities to determine the cause of this preventable tragedy.

If you or a loved one were hurt in an Atmos gas explosion, please call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form.    

Consultations are always free, and because we work on a contingency fee, you won’t owe us anything unless we win your case.