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Oklahoma Natural Gas workers investigated a leak for about an hour before explosion

The explosion in Oklahoma City that happened as a result of a natural gas leak on Jan. 3 is still under investigation.
BY VALLERY BROWN vbrown@opubco.com Modified: January 11, 2013 at 11:15 pm •  Published: January 12, 2013
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State Corporation Commission investigators were on the scene shortly after the explosion, spokesman Matt Skinner said. The explosion met criteria to trigger both a state and a federal investigation. The state will investigate the incident for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, a division of the U.S. Transportation Department.

Skinner couldn't comment on specifics of the investigation.

“There are pipeline safety rules and regulations, and we're making sure those rules are followed,” he said.

Justin Wallace, who lives about a block away from Purcell and Bowman, said he smelled gas before the explosion. He said it got worse right before the blast, and he knew immediately what caused the detonation that shook things off the walls where he was.

“I just wonder why no one was evacuated before,” he said. “This is going to be stuck in our minds for a long time.

Kate Purcell's daughter, Tammy Jeck, said her mother has been staying at a local hotel. Purcell told her she smelled the gas before the blast and had asked workers outside if she needed to evacuate while she was getting her mail. Shortly after, the house exploded.

About 14 people were evacuated from the area after the explosion, and Purcell's home is a total loss. No one was seriously injured.

Several surrounding houses were severely damaged, and the home where the explosion occurred is a pile of burned lumber and scorched metal. The garage where the car was parked is gone, but a charred-out car still sits between where the walls were.

The metal garage door was thrown across the street during the explosion, and doors and windows were blown out of a nearby home. Other nearby homes have boarded-up windows, and contractors are busy working on roofs, damaged siding and unseen structural damage in at least six nearby homes.