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1973 gas explosion lawsuit was dismissed
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If you’ve been wondering about something in your community, Ask The Times is your place to get answers. The following questions were submitted by readers and answered through the efforts of our news staff.

What was the result of the lawsuit against United Cities Gas Company for the gas explosion in the 1970s that was featured in Ask The Times two weeks ago?

According to court records from the time period, a catastrophic gas explosion occurred at Georgia Anne Barrett’s home, located off of Thompson Bridge Road in Gainesville, at about 11:30 p.m. Nov. 21, 1973. The incident leveled the house, injured Barrett and killed her two young daughters.

In 1974, Barrett sued United Cities Gas Co., Wall Heating and Air Conditioning, Mansfield Propane Gas, several employees of those businesses and the owner of the house, claiming that the explosion was due to negligence. All of the defendants denied any wrongdoing.

United Cities Gas Co. was dismissed as a defendant in March 1975 and the rest of the suit was dismissed in June of the same year. Both dismissals were done with prejudice and it is unclear if any settlement was made because large sections of the records were sealed.

Barrett sought $1 million in restitution for the deaths of her 4-year-old daughter Honey Melodie Eavenson and her 2-year-old daughter Christina Mae Barrett.

Barrett described learning of their deaths in a deposition: “After the explosion, when I woke up in the hospital. I was told the girls were dead. I asked why, and I was told that there was a gas explosion at my house.”

According to documents, United Cities Gas Co. claimed the gas line was relatively new, having been installed in January 1972, but the service to the house was terminated in June 1973.

A consulting engineer later determined the valve of the 500 pound underground gas tank was secured with a cylinder lock that was later tampered with by an unknown person. The tank then leaked gas into the space under the house until it was ignited by a spark.

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