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Police file charges against man in southeast Dallas apartment explosion

Side of collapsed building with debris spilling out and fire damage behind red don't cross tape.
Christopher Connelly
The apartment explosion in late September injured seven people, including four firefighters and three civilians.

Dallas police say they've filed charges against a man related to a September gas explosion at the Highland Hills Apartments near Paul Quinn College in southeast Dallas.

Police said 28-year-old Phillip Dankins was already in custody at the Dallas County Jail on a family violence warrant. It’s unknown if the incidents are related.
Dankins faces seven deadly conduct warrants related to the explosion.

Seven people were injured in the explosion, including four Dallas Fire-Rescue members. Two remain hospitalized.

"My heart is out to all the firemen who still gotta recover -- there's a long way to recovery. The resident are trying to get relocated to permanent housing," said council member Tennell Atkins, who represents the area of southern Oak Cliff.

In the meantime, 250 residents are still displaced from their homes, according to the city.

Atkins said investigators believe the man in custody shot into an apartment and damaged a gas line that was connected to a stove.

"But right now it's a great day that no one lost a life," Atkins said.

WFAA-TV reported that investigators “concluded that the explosion was caused when a suspect fired into an apartment, hit a stove and severed a gas line.”

The city has provided hotels for families displaced by the explosion. But those stays might end soon, said Rocky Vaz, who is with Dallas' Office of Emergency Management.

“They're right now doing the inspections and checking the gas pressure,” Vaz told KERA. “And once that is green tagged and hopefully, everything works out, the gas is turned on, they'll be able to check out and go back to their apartments.”

Atkins said the hotel stays are being managed on a day-by-day basis.

This is a developing story.

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Syeda Hasan is the Elections Editor and Reporter at KERA. Before moving into that role, she covered mental health at the station. A Houston native, her journalism career has taken her to public radio newsrooms around Texas.
Alejandra Martinez is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). She's covering the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities and the city of Dallas.