First, this Raleigh house exploded. Then a key to the investigation went missing.

Michael Perchick Image
Friday, August 7, 2020
First, this Raleigh house exploded. Then a key to the investigation went missing.
First, this Raleigh house exploded. Then a key to the investigation went missing.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Raleigh family has been unable to return to their home nearly two months after an explosion, leaving them exasperated.

It all started on June 13 when Mike Garner was at his work. His wife and three young children were at their home on Courtland Drive as a contractor was working on the HVAC at the home.

"My wife's calling me, telling me I need to come home. I didn't know what the heck's going on," said Mike Garner.

When Garner returned, he found a chaotic scene. An explosion had rocked his home.

"The house literally went six inches in the air. The whole house. I mean the entire house," he said.

While Garner's family was physically unharmed, the contractor was injured and had to go to the hospital.

According to an incident report from the Raleigh Fire Department, the contractor "was working on pipes in the crawlspace when there was an explosion."

When Dominion Energy arrived on scene, the fire department's incident report said their "monitors picked up high levels of natural gas at the street."

Garner initially sent his family to stay with extended family, before they moved into an apartment where they've been since.

"It's impossible (to explain to my children). I spent my Father's Day with my kids asking was the house going to blow up, daddy. And one of them lost a tooth, and they asked, 'is the Tooth Fairy not going to come because the house blew up?'" said Garner.

The RFD incident report says: 'Dominion advised command that they would have to dig up the road to repair the line.'

An incident report from Dominion Energy, obtained by ABC 11, said that "while the investigation into the origin and cause of the explosion is ongoing, a natural gas leak was observed near the transition between the steel tapping tee and the plastic service line that served 1345 Courtland Drive."

On Monday, as Garner and several parties related to the investigation returned to the property, they discovered an acetylene torch kit was missing.

"The tanks were here. There was a witness that said the tanks were here under the house on Thursday. Well, all the experts gather and the attorneys gather Monday to take the tanks out of the house. The guy comes out and looks like he saw a ghost, said 'tanks are gone.' Next thing I know, all the attorneys are canvassing the neighborhood looking for footage, knocking on doors to see if somebody's camera picked up something," said Garner.

Garner filed a report with Raleigh police about the missing kit, which is owned by ARS/Rescue Rooter. The kit had a value of $300. The parties believe the tanks may provide important information into the investigation.

In a statement off-camera, ARS/Rescue Rooter said they "have no information as to when the tanks were removed, by whom or why." ARS/Rescue Rooter is listed as a victim in the Raleigh Police Department report.

The incident report prepared by Dominion Energy mentioned the tanks, stating "overturned acetylene tanks were also noted in the crawl space of 1347 Courtland Drive after the incident."

"It's the craziest thing. I feel like I'm in a movie," said Garner.

Garner credits Erie Insurance for assisting his family financially, but as he looks at the massive damage to the foundation of the home and walls, he's unsure if they'll be able to safely return.

"What I really want is what I had. I want to be in that front yard right there. I want to be playing with my kids, spraying water on them. That's what I want. And I want them to have never been almost killed," said Garner.

The incident report prepared by Dominion Energy said Garner's home "is not habitable."

If you have any information about the missing kit, call Raleigh police.