HARRISON COUNTY, Texas (KSLA) — It’s now been five full days since families were evacuated in the moments after a natural gas well blew out.
Emotions are running high and patience is wearing thin among some members of the dozen households who were forced out of their homes early Christmas morning.
Cellphone video captured the deafening roar of the blowout not 200 yards from the Miller family home near Crossroads southeast of Marshall, Texas.
Melissa Miller recalled thinking that morning that it must be pouring down rain.
She opened their balcony door and awakened her husband, Mark.
“I looked out the door and she did that and she closed it. And then right about then, the smell hit me and she said, ‘What’s that smell'?"
Mark Miller knew immediately it wasn’t rain.
“And that’s when I hopped out of bed and I went and opened the door and it was just green fog. And I was like, ‘Oh my.’ I was like, that’s when I was like, 'We gotta go.”
All Melissa Miller could think about was the lives of her family just hours after what she described as a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner.
“I was afraid we were going to blow up. I was afraid we were all going to die as soon as he said, ‘I think that’s the gas main. We gotta go’.”
After safely getting away, Melissa Miller said their next big concern that morning became what to do with all their animals.
“We have two dogs, three cats, two guinea pigs and four chickens.”
Her parents in Shreveport first put them up and are helping with their animals.
Fortunately, a nearby hotel accepts pets, as well.
The Millers are among the 45 people from a dozen homes evacuated after what the well owner, Tanos Exploration, has called a mechanical failure of a valve on what is known in the industry as a Christmas tree.
The Miller family said they were told Saturday they would likely be back in their homes as early as Monday.
But with the shifting timeline still moving, they think it could be as late as Tuesday or beyond before they actually get back home and end this ordeal.
The Millers said they are grateful that the well owner is providing a per diem and paying for hotel rooms for all those who had to evacuate from their homes.
They also said they’ll wait to ask some of the tougher questions, like ones about emergency procedures and notifications, until after they are back in their brand-new dream home.