Lawsuit: Gas utility's neglect led to fatal house explosion

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CAMPTON, Ky. (AP) — The deaths of three people in a Kentucky home explosion are the fault of a utility company that failed to respond adequately to concerns about the smell of gas, relatives of the explosion victims say in a lawsuit.

The Nov. 23 explosion instantly killed Phillip Vanderpool, 52, and his wife Sueann Vanderpool, 48. The owner of the home, Albert Vanderpool, 80, died days later. He was Phillip Vanderpool's father, news media reported.

In a wrongful death lawsuit against Troublesome Creek Gas Corp., Phillip Vanderpool's children say leaking gas ignited and exploded, killing their parents, WLEX-TV reported.

The lawsuit says family members had called Troublesome Creek at least four times in the five days leading up to the explosion, complaining of a gas smell.

The first call happened on Nov. 19, requesting that the utility investigate a leak. A technician came according to the lawsuit but didn't perform an adequate inspection and failed to conduct any gas readings. The technician also left the gas on.

The lawsuit says the family called the next day and the same technician came without fixing anything. The family called two more times but the company didn't send anyone to investigate, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says technicians came to the house the day of the explosion and told the family the residence was safe and that they would be back.

Approximately 30 minutes after the technicians left, the home exploded.

Wolfe County Emergency Management Director Marcus Stephens told WLEX-TV that the agency was aware of the family's concern on the day of the explosion. Dispatch received a call about the smell of gas and knew technicians went to the home. Stephens said the family called again and dispatchers sent two fire departments to the home. They were on their way when the home exploded.

The lawsuit says Troublesome Creek was negligent and caused the deaths of Phillip and Sueann Vanderpool.

Troublesome Creek told WLEX they have no comment on the lawsuit.

The explosion is still under investigation.

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