House fire leaves 1 dead, 1 injured Friday night

Published: Aug. 25, 2012 at 8:55 PM CDT|Updated: Dec. 15, 2014 at 2:01 AM CST
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Lubbock fire officials have provided more information about a house fire that left one man dead and one injured on Friday night.

Officials say the fire was caused by a lightning strike on the roof which penetrated some corrugated stainless steel tubing that was carrying natural gas. The strike occurred around 11 p.m.

The house in the 3900 block of 110th Street belonged to Ross Rushing. He and his friend Brennen Teel were in the garage when a backdraft explosion occurred.

The explosion hit Teel. Ross was saved because he was behind his pickup truck. The explosion buckled the garage door, which allowed Ross to escape, but Teel was killed. All other family members were saved.

Teel was taken from the scene by EMS to University Medical Center where he was later pronounced dead.

Assistant Fire Marshall Lt. Elliot Eldredge said, "Generally it doesn't spread this fast. What we're seeing now is that sometimes there's some issues with corrugated stainless steel tubing that gets breached during the lightning strike and then you have a natural gas-fed fire. The backdraft is a peculiar circumstance, probably caused by the newer construction - more airtight, more energy efficient - probably led to that being a factor."

Rushing's neighbor Bracken Christian described the incident, "I just finished up doing some emails in the front of my office and was looking out the window and saw lightning hit. It was pretty big and it looked like it hit the back of the house, so we just kind of watched to see if there were going to be any flames or anything. So after a little bit, they came running out and the kids came to our home."

"I was really impressed with the fire department," Christian said. "We were just glad the kids were safe. They have three little boys. We're just glad they're safe, and you know, that's the good thing. Houses can be replaced, but the lives cannot."

It only took the fire department one minute to respond because firefighters with Station 16 saw the strike and smelled smoke. The 911 call came seven minutes later.

The fire was confined to the attic, but smoke damage affected most of the house.

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