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Gilbert Gas Explosion: 911 call released; neighbor helped burn victim

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GILBERT, Ariz. -

More than a week after a gas explosion rocked a neighborhood, some residents in the area are still being told to stay away, while others are choosing not to go home because of all the noise from work crews.

One man was hurt in that explosion and now we're hearing the 911 call made by a neighbor who rushed in to help him.

Parts of the street where the explosion happened is still blocked off.

Southwest Gas is still detecting low levels of gas there.

In the 911 call, a neighbor says he heard the explosion and found a man in a garage, badly burned.

Dispatcher: "911, where is your emergency?"

Trying to help a man severely burned in an explosion, a neighbor remains calm as he talked to a dispatcher.

Dispatcher: "What is your emergency?"

Caller: "It appears to be an explosion inside a house.. the guy's burned pretty bad."

Dispatcher: "Do you know this person at all?"

Caller: "No ma'am.  I just heard the explosion and ran down the street."

The explosion happened at a home on the 1900 block of East Palomino Drive around 7:00 February 9th.

The victim can be heard in the background, despite his injuries.  The neighbor was able to coax information from him.

Caller: "It seems they were remodeling or fixing the house.  I'm not sure exactly what they were doing, but he was in the garage when it had happened and I entered the garage and it's just heat.. massive heat.  The garage door's been blown outwards.  It was closed, so I'm assuming some sort of fumes had built up in there.  He lit his lighter from what I got from him and it exploded."

Firefighters later determined the victim lit a cigarette in his garage, which sparked the explosion that Southwest Gas now says was caused by a natural gas leak.  24 homes in the neighborhood were initially evacuated.

Nine days later, three homes are still evacuated.  The neighborhood is deafening as Southwest Gas is aerating -- trying to get the remaining gas out of the pipe.

The burn victim remains hospitalized, undergoing surgeries for his burns.

Dispatcher: "Where's he burned at?"

Caller: "Head to toe.  He's blistering really bad."

Gas doesn't run to the homes in the neighborhood, but a gas line does run down the street.

No one called in a leak.

The spokesperson for Southwest Gas says they're investigating how and when the leak happened.  They're also paying for hotels for those evacuated.

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