Charlotte, NC – Theres new information on the house explosion that caused the death of an infant last week.
Charlotte fire investigators said at a press conference on Friday that an uncapped pipe caused gas to leak into the walls of the home. They say the problem started between March and June 1 when Courtney Chambers, Domecio Coleman and their 4-month-old daughter Synora Coleman moved into the home.
During that time period, a handyman hired by the owners of the home went into the house, removed a wall furnace and some piping, then didnt put a cap on the open pipe. Investigators say he incorrectly assumed it was a dead line.
Then, last week another maintenance worker was called in by the owner to fix a toilet and turn on the natural gas line. When he did, the gas poured out of the open pipe and into the walls for more than an hour. Firefighters say the gas was likely ignited when the water heater was turned on.
“There’s two major problems here: Number one is there was never a cap placed on this section of piping and then the other handyman coming to the home and turning the gas back on, said Charlotte fire investigator David Lowery.
Before the explosion, firefighters had responded to a complaint of a gas smell a few houses down. While they were responding to that call, the maintenance worker turned on the line to the home that eventually exploded. Thats why the investigators say the initial smell was not at all related to the explosion.
They say it was a coincidence they were there responding to an odor complaint the same day the house exploded.
Synora Coleman died in the explosion. Her father, Domecio Coleman, is in serious condition at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Courtney Chambers was released from the hospital earlier this week.
Piedmont Natural Gas recommends only their employees or a licensed contractor turn gas lines on or off. Investigators say the maintenance workers hired by the homeowner were not licensed. The countys district attorney will decide if charges will be filed.