Russell McElyea is suing Atmos Energy Corporation after being severely burned when his friend's home exploded due to a gas leak. On May 14, 2017, Mr. McElyea was visiting his friend Raul Pedroza at his home in Stephenville, Texas. Mr. Pedroza was preparing lunch when he lit his stove, causing the house to explode in a gaseous fireball. McElyea managed to grab Pedroza and drag him out the front door just before an additional explosion occurred in the home. McElyea suffered burns to his face and arms and even went into a coma shortly after the incident. Pedroza sustained serious burns to more than 70 percent of his body, eventually succumbing to his wounds. According to the lawsuit, Atmos failed to properly warn Pedroza and himself of the dangers associated with gas leaks.
According to a recent story by Brett Shipp with WFAA in Dallas, Atmos Energy still has more than 800 miles of piping which is made of cast iron, a material that a federal agency advised gas providers to phase out as far back as 1973, citing issues with deterioration and corrosion. Following an explosion at a Dallas residence in September 2011, Atmos energy was cited by the Texas Railroad Commission because the company did not have a "cast-iron replacement program in place." On the night of the explosion, the family living in the home that exploded had just returned to their small apartment and turned on a light. The explosion knocked them to the floor, leaving them all hospitalized for weeks in intensive care with critical injuries. Mother and 5 year old child were close to death.