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As Home Explosions Investigation Continues, Jackson Volunteers Provide Gas Detectors

JACKSON, Miss.—When Chris Way heard that South Jackson communities needed help delivering and installing natural gas leak-detecting devices, the 25-year-old knew he wanted to help. The effort came in the weeks after two South Jackson homes exploded, prompting a federal investigation to examine whether gas leaks or infrastructure failures may have been the cause.

“Me and my mom actually went to Lowe’s and bought a few of them at first. Then, people donated them so we could give them out to more people,” he said. Way grew up in South Jackson in a neighborhood near Thomas Cardozo Middle School.

For the past couple of years, he’s volunteered with the organization Mississippi MOVE, helping out wherever needed.

He filled up his gas tank on Monday and again Wednesday while on a mission to deliver as many of the devices as were available. Way said that as donations come in, he will continue to assist with delivering the devices to residents.

The primary thing on his mind, Way said, has been relieving some of the stress residents have felt after a home explosion on Bristol Boulevard killed 82-year-old Clara Barbour on Jan. 24, devastating the community. Barbour’s husband, Rev. Johnny Barbour, was injured but survived.

Mississippi MOVE volunteer Chris Way, left, is pictured delivering a gas-leak-detection device to South Jackson resident Joyce McCants. Photo by Shaunicy Muhammad

Three days later, less than a mile away on Shalimar Drive, another home exploded. The second home was unoccupied at the time of the explosion, WLBT reported on Jan. 27.

Within days, investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board arrived in Jackson and began trying to determine what may have caused the explosions. Although the NTSB is commonly known for in-depth inquiries and safety recommendations after airline and rail accidents, natural-gas pipeline safety also falls under its jurisdiction.

‘The Investigation Is Ongoing’

The National Transportation Safety Board has yet to say definitively what sparked both explosions, but on Tuesday, Feb. 20, the agency released a short preliminary report with information its investigators gathered while coordinating with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, The Mississippi

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