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Burned resident says, 'We lost everything.'

Published: Apr. 10, 2012 at 1:16 PM CDT|Updated: Dec. 15, 2014 at 1:54 AM CST
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD)

Lubbock fire marshals say the fire at Briercroft Manor Apartments on Tuesday morning was caused by "a gas utility fueled explosion," although the ignition source is still unknown.

Fire and EMS officials were called to 1321 65th Drive Tuesday morning at approximately 9:20 a.m.

Most of the residents were not at home at the time of the explosion; however, seven people were taken to the hospital for treatment, including one infant who was treated at the UMC Burn Center.

Only one resident remains in the hospital as of Tuesday afternoon. Bryan Greif, a 38-year-old man, remains in the UMC burn center in serious condition with second and third degree burns on his feet.

An EMS worker is being treated for smoke inhalation and will be kept overnight for observation.

KCBD's Christie Post was able to speak with Greif by phone:

"I have second and third degree burns all over the bottom of my feet. They're having to pop blisters and possibly surgery," Greif said.

Greif reports a very high pain level. The Burn Unit is giving him morphine and other painkillers to help him cope.

Greif describes the experience as the closest he and his fiancee have been to death.

"We're laying in bed and all of a sudden we heard an explosion. The bedroom wall comes caving in, then the ceiling came down on top of the wall. We were just running for our lives," Greif said.

Greif says the wall would have fallen on them, but the collapse of the ceiling actually stopped it.

Greif took off running, wearing nothing but boxers and a t-shirt. He didn't realize he needed medical care until he got across the street and noticed skin peeling off the bottom of his feet.

"There were people running outside from every direction. It was complete chaos," Greif said.

Neighbors say the entire apartment complex has "burned to a shell." For safety reasons, the building has already been demolished.

"We lost everything," Greif said.

A statement from the Lubbock Fire Marshal's office says, "Structural damage is consistent with that of low pressure gas (LPG) gas explosions. Multiple witness statements reinforce those findings. Apartments are being demolished at this time for safety reasons. An exact cause determination is pending completion of the investigation."

KCBD's Natasha Sweatte spoke with several residents who said they reported a gas leak to Briercroft's maintenance department on Monday night.

James Norman was just one of the many lucky residents who were able to escape safely.

"We told them it smelled like gas; they were complaining about the gas," Norman said.

A maintenance worker on scene confirmed that a work order to fix a gas leak had been put in place.

We contacted the building owner, Chester Campbell, but he would not speak to us on camera.

Atmos was on scene Tuesday morning to turn off the gas meter.

Atmos Energy says they "never received a call for a possible leak order at Briercroft Manor Apartments. Anytime Atmos Energy receives a call about a possible leak we respond immediately."

Atmos released an updated statement on Tuesday afternoon:

Atmos Energy crews have spent the day performing safety checks throughout the affected area and continue to assist local authorities in the investigation of an apartment fire at the Briercroft Manor Apartments at the 1300 block of 65th Drive in Lubbock, Texas.

"We are committed to determining what happened at the Briercroft Manor Apartments and we are doing everything possible to aid in the investigation," Atmos Energy Manager of Public Affairs Marinda Heinrich said.

Atmos Energy is asking residents regardless of where they live, if they detect the odor of natural gas to report it immediately by calling 911 or Atmos Energy's emergency hotline 1.866.322.8667.

The Salvation Army says 22 families were affected by the accident and 38 people were displaced. 

The Salvation Army of Lubbock has opened a shelter to help people displaced by this explosion. They are not accepting in-kind donations at this time, but you can contribute money on their web site at: salvationarmylubbock.org.

Copyright 2012 KCBD. All rights reserved.