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Cause Behind Highland Hills Apartment Explosion Revealed

City & State, Featured

Apartment debris pushed into a pile after explosion. | Image from Management Training News

The cause behind the suspected gas leak and explosion at the Highland Hills Apartment Complex has been announced. Investigators told WFAA that a person fired a gun inside the apartment, which caused a puncture in a gas line. On Tuesday, WFAA writes that detectives “obtained seven deadly conduct warrants in connection with the blast.”    

Phillip Dankins, 28, a convicted felon, was placed into jail in early October on possession of a firearm, among other charges. After running ballistics testing, investigators discovered that the shells at the scene matched the exact gun Dankins had. Reports made to authorities the night before the explosion both describe a gas scent and the sound of a firearm being shot, WFAA says.    

Police records show investigators speaking to Dankins’ girlfriend about the incident. On September 26th, Dankins allegedly pointed a loaded firearm at her and his young son. Later, on October 2nd, Dankins was detained after fleeing a suspected robbery, evading Mesquite Police.    

The explosion injured multiple civilians and four firefighters. Some were described to be in critical condition when reaching the hospital. The blast flew debris hundreds of feet outside, previous reports detail.

The following fire caused the corner of the complex to collapse, displacing residents. Residents were also concerned at the announcement that the city would not continue to cover hotel expenses past this week, as utilities will soon be restored to most rooms in the complex, Dallas Morning News wrote.

According to his brother Brendan, one firefighter, Chris Gadomski, has been in the burn unit of Parkland hospital for 19 days. “Hopefully, the worst is behind him, but he’s still got a long road,” said the brother. Brendan also revealed Chris was remaining responsive and upbeat despite his current suffering. 

Chris Gadomski is set on returning as a firefighter one day. According to Brendan Gadomski, his brother told him, “Get me that ax in my hands” after finally being able to move his hand.