The Midland Fire Department has released the cause of an apartment fire on Jan. 20 and an explosion that set off a fire in a building in the 800 block of South Midkiff Road earlier this month.
Midland firefighters responded to a fire at approximately 10:34 a.m. at Thornwood Apartments, located in the 2600 block of North A Street. The call was originally reported as an electrical fire in the attic, but an investigation revealed that a heating unit was to blame for the flames. Insulation material in the attic that was covering the top of the heater unit ignited, spreading flames to the adjacent wood structure of the attic. Building maintenance personnel called 911 after investigating a complaint of smoke in the building, and the apartment occupant reported to investigators that there had been a very slight odor of burning wood for several days. The type of fire ignition in this case is slow and often not detected early.
All fire damage was confined to the heater unit and attic space above the apartment, and nearby apartments also received minor smoke and/or water damage. No injuries were reported as a result of the fire.
A natural gas leak is believed to be the cause in an explosion and resulting fire inside a building in the 800 block of South Midkiff Road on Jan. 9. Firefighters responded to the report at approximately 10:30 a.m. and battled flames at the structure, which housed several small businesses and storage spaces.
The investigation found that natural gas, which is suspected to have originated from a buried gas service line located in the alley behind the building, was ignited by a central gas-fired furnace located adjacent to the room that is believed to be the source of the leak.
Nearby business employees stated that they smelled natural gas odorant in the air earlier in the day. Gas vapors were discovered leaking through existing cracks in the building's concrete foundation slap and gas was also discovered coming through the alley asphalt paving during the preliminary investigation.
The gas provider immediately began efforts to identify and mitigate and deficiencies in the service line. The structure was severely damaged by both the explosion and the fire.###
Media Contact: Fire Marshal David Hickman