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Santa Maria residents dealing with break-ins following home explosion

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Posted at 6:35 PM, Aug 31, 2023

A fence now surrounds the Santa Maria home in Santa Maria that exploded last week as the result of a natural gas leak.

The damage to other nearby homes is also still visible, and in the wake of the destruction, neighbors are now dealing with break-ins.

“It is sad because this neighborhood is usually pretty quiet and safe. Not feeling safe in your neighborhood, it is bad,” said Michael Aguilar, a homeowner in the Hancock Village neighborhood.

He says the blast from the accidental explosion at 1219 Jackie Ln. shattered windows and destroyed the garage doors of dozens of nearby homes.

The Hancock Village Homeowners Association boarded up the damaged properties, but neighbors say burglaries are their latest concern.

"One of our neighbors told us someone had managed to lift up their garage door that had been damaged, walk in and take things,” Aguilar told KSBY.

“Last Saturday, they attempted to break into this house, but they have also invaded a home, taken some things at other places. It is an ongoing situation,” added Bob Guy, who owns the property next door to the home that exploded.

He's had the same family as tenants for more than a decade. He has put them up in a nearby hotel as the clean-up efforts continue.

“They are traumatized. Their life is in disorder. Their clothing is here at the residence,” Guy said. “They are pretty distraught, I think is the right word.”

Guy says he will be having a structural engineer come by the home to get a better sense of all the necessary repairs, but he says it could be months before the family will be able to live there again.

“The grandmother was in bed. She was thrown out of bed. A dresser fell on her. The daughter was in the shower, and she fell and had some stitches just come out,” he explained. “So, they are still not sleeping well, not good hearing, those kinds of things.”

In an effort to put a stop to the recent break-ins on Jackie Lane, Santa Maria Police officers say they are coordinating extra overnight patrols in the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, more than a week after the explosion, Aguilar says the sentiment in Hancock Village is disbelief.

“It looks like a war zone out here. I am glad that we are cleaning it up, but I kind of want my neighborhood to be back to its quiet, happy self,” he said.

Guy says the Hancock Village HOA is considering other security measures to prevent future break-ins.

Throughout the week, several insurance agents, glass repair and roofing contractors have also been in Hancock Village, individually tending to the damaged homes.