ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s been more than a month since a Nob Hill house exploded, and the two girls inside miraculously walked out alive. Even now, Gas Company crews are still trying to deal with a massive natural gas pocket under the neighborhood.
As families on the block are finally allowed to return home, the homeowners who lost everything are surveying the damage.
“I didn’t hear anything, but I felt something. I felt everything shake, and then I blinked, and it was less like an instant,” said Collette Wilson, one of the girls in the house at the time of the explosion.
“I was just laying there, might have been looking at my phone, and all of a sudden, this incredibly loud noise happened,” said Clarice Wilson, Collette’s sister who was also in the house.
A normal Thursday turned into a nightmare for the Wilson family and their neighbors.
“There was smoke. I heard alarms going off. There was debris everywhere, and I was, just, I was just confused,” said Collette.
“I called out for Colette, but I knew that she was going to be towards the front of the house and wouldn’t be able to hear me,” recalled Clarice.
The girls are lucky to even be alive. Collette and Clarice Wilson were the only ones home on September 7 when the natural gas explosion happened, but the effects rippled through the neighborhood.
The Wilsons’ next-door neighbor, Dori Skidmore, heard the explosion and rushed outside.
“I just tore out my front door and ran over there, and Colette was on the lawn, and some other people from the neighborhood who I don’t know, they were with her, but I’ve known her since she was born. So, I just sat down with her and stayed with her until the paramedics came,” said Skidmore.
“You just can’t believe somebody’s making it out of there, let alone two people and our dogs and you know, so at the beginning, you’re just in shock,” said Joan Wilson, the girls’ mother and the homeowner. “It’s surreal, and every time I drive anywhere now, I question myself, like, ‘Did this happen?’”
After the explosion, several neighbors had to evacuate their homes because of a large pocket of natural gas still trapped underneath this Nob Hill neighborhood.
It wasn’t until last week, six weeks after the explosion, that they were allowed to return. The Gas Company is still out there, drilling and pumping the gas out.
“It happened so fast, we didn’t know what to grab or anything,” said Skidmore.
The Wilsons are now starting over from scratch.
Kevin Wilson, the girls’ father and the other homeowner, explained the nuances of the experience, noting how they were missing even the small things like tweezers and nail clippers.
The Wilsons and their neighbors are trying to figure out what caused the gas pocket, and who is liable.
“Hopefully, for the Wilsons and the other residents that we represent, that we will be able to show the case for what these folks have been going through, how their lives have been upended, and when we make those demands or those claims, we’ll be able to validate, validate, and justify each of those claims,” said Damon Martinez, the family’s attorney.
For now, they are cleaning up the mess, sorting through the wreckage, and trying to pick up the pieces.
“We’re devastated about our home that we’ve lived in for so long, but none of it means anything if you don’t have your kids,” said Joan.
As for whether they’ll keep the property and rebuild, the Wilsons said it’s still up in the air since this would be the third time they would have to rebuild.
In the time they’ve lived here, this house has been destroyed twice before by fire and flooding.