New Braunfels, TX – By Bryan Kirk, Seguin Gazette – Federal, state and local officials announced Tuesday that an explosion that critically injured two elderly residents was the result of an uncapped shutoff valve.
Britton Ware Jr. and his wife, Susie, suffered second- and third-degree burns Sunday after investigators said they attempted to light their water heater.
The couple, who were originally from Georgia, had just moved into their home at 1349 Timberwood Trail days earlier to be closer to their family.
Monday afternoon, officials at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio said Britton Ware was in critical condition. His wife was in critical but stable condition.
Their condition remained unchanged Tuesday.
Neighbors told investigators they reportedly smelled gas in the area before the explosion occurred.
Area residents said they thought they smelled propane in the neighborhood. It was a massive explosion to do the damage it did, said New Braunfels Fire Chief John Herber.
Officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms assisted local fire investigators and the Texas Railroad Commission, who took a lead role in the investigation.
Meanwhile, investigators confirmed the explosion was caused by propane gas leaking from the uncapped shutoff valve that was located behind an electric clothes dryer.
In a press release from the Comal County Sheriffs Office, Comal County Fire Marshal Lin Manford said investigators relied on physical evidence to determine the cause of the blast.
The valve was determined to be partially open allowing propane gas to escape into the residence, Manford said in his release.
Manford said investigators believe the dryer may have come into contact with the valve, causing it to partially open.