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Military Family Just Moved to Home in Natural Gas Explosion That Killed 1, Injured 15

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Southern California Gas Company identified the man killed Monday in a gas explosion as a longtime employee whose brother also worked with the utility. 

Wade Kilpatrick, 31, was killed and 15 other people were injured in a natural gas line explosion and fire that reduced a military family’s Murrieta home to charred rubble and blew debris as far as three blocks away.

Crews initially responded to the home on Wooden Horse Trail near Spicewood Avenue at 10:57 a.m. due to a ruptured gas line, according to Murrieta Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief David Lantzer.

Southern California Gas Co. crews arrived at 11:23 a.m. to being repair work on the line, but at 12:10 p.m., an explosion occurred, Lantzer said.

“The flames were so orange it was just huge and horrific,” said Kathleen Rivera, who was driving by moments after the explosion. “It felt like the earth just shook.”

Deadly House Explosion in Murrieta

Kilpatrick was a lead construction technician who had 11 years of employment with the utility, according to a SoCalGas spokesperson. 

Three Murrieta Fire and Rescue firefighters were among the 15 others injured but the extent of injuries was not disclosed. 

“All injured parties were transported and are being medically evaluated,” Lantzer said. “We have a total of 15.”

Military servicemember Alex Haaland, his wife and two kids moved into the property three months ago. Haaland’s wife was inside getting diapers at the time of the explosion but she was not hurt. 

SoCalGas officials said they responded to the home on reports “of a natural gas line that was damaged by a contractor working on a home on Wooden Horse Trail in the city of Murrieta. Shortly after crews arrived, there was an explosion.”

Natural Gas Line Explosion Kills 1 in MurrietaNatural Gas Line Explosion Kills 1 in Murrieta

The contractor involved reportedly did not call 811 to come out and mark the gas line prior to digging, as is accordance with California law, SoCalGas VP of Construction Cedric Williams said.

A previous report from SoCalGas stated a resident of the home that exploded may have been unaccounted for. At 6:30 p.m., Lantzer said everyone was accounted for.

Emergency personnel were called at about 12:15 p.m. and later called for an air ambulance.

One other home was partially damaged on the side facing the burned-out home, but apparently did not catch fire, according to reports from the scene.

15 Injured in Murrieta Home Explosion15 Injured in Murrieta Home Explosion

The Riverside Press-Enterprise cited a witness account in reporting that a natural gas line was apparently struck while solar panel and landscape workers were working on the home.

Christine Detz with SoCalGas said utility crews stopped the flow of gas to the property about 1 p.m.

The blast pattern shows most of the debris was blown south as far as three blocks. Fire investigators have cordoned off the debris field as part of their investigation.

Utility Worker Killed in Murrieta Home ExplosionUtility Worker Killed in Murrieta Home Explosion

Murrieta police closed Clinton Keith Road to all traffic from Carrington to Nutmeg Street and said no one would be allowed into the area — including residents — for an undetermined period of time for safety reasons.

Those who can’t access their homes during this closure can go to the practice gym at Vista Murrieta High School located on 28251 Clinton Keith Road.

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