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House Explosion Survivor Says He ‘Hit The Ceiling’

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Kolby Gimmeson (credit: CBS)

Kolby Gimmeson (credit: CBS)

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (CBS4) – One person is still in the hospital and two dozen families are still not being allowed to go home after a punctured gas line in Grand Junction caused a home to explode on Tuesday.

Xcel Energy crews were still on scene Wednesday evening. Officials said the gas line was so pressurized that it shot gas under the road and around homes. There was so much gas that crews were still detecting dangerously high levels on the road and around some homes.

CBS4’s Jeff Todd talked to one of the people who managed to escape with burns. He asked explosion survivor Kolby Gimmeson why his destroyed home was the first place he wanted to go after he was released from the hospital.

“Because this is all I have, this is the only thing left. I wanted to see if I had my phone left, insurance papers. I just found out I don’t have anything at all,” Gimmeson responded.

Gimmeson, a college student, said he smelled what he thought was onions all morning, and a roommate lit incense to get rid of the smell inside their home. That’s what ignited the house.

“I hit the ceiling, there were flames everywhere. I could barely even see out of my eyes,” Gimmeson said. “I saw the flames start on this side, it definitely got my roommate the worst, came across the couch, I covered my face right here, came across me, got my arm and then it got to the back vent and exploded the couch up, and then threw us out,” he said. “I’m missing a lot of skin on my arm here and as you see my face is pretty bad too … my hair was on fire and I had to shake it out.”

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

As Gimmeson came back to what used to be his home, work was still being done in the neighborhood. Pockets of gas remained underground and Xcel Energy says it’s too dangerous to let other residents back in.

The gas got into the ground and sewer system after a subcontractor for the city drilled into a gas transmission line while attempting to install a conduit under the road for a new traffic signal.

FULL INTERVIEW VIDEO: House Explosion Victim Says He Hit The Ceiling

“I don’t know who was in charge of the drilling going on, but when I was thrown out of the house there were already five fire trucks sitting there,” Gimmeson said. “And if there was something going on then they definitely knew it was a big situation going on. They definitely should have done a better job warning the neighborhood before doing any drilling or opening any fire hose or anything.”

RELATED: How To Detect A Potentially Dangerous Gas Leak

The city said there is an investigation under way with a range of agencies, not just to find out how the house exploded, but how the subcontracting crew was able to rupture the line.

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