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Springfield, MA Natural Gas Explosion Caused by Human Error

Our Boston Personal Injury Attorneys previously blogged about a natural gas explosion at Scores Gentlemen’s Club that injured 18 people and damaged 42 buildings in Springfield’s entertainment district.

Now, authorities appear to have identified the cause. State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said the blast was due to a “human error” that occurred when an unnamed utility worker accidentally punctured a high-pressure pipeline while looking for a leak.

The worker pierced the gas line while using a metal probe to search for a leak, said Coan. Gas then filled the strip club, with a spark of some kind igniting the blast. “Unfortunately when he put the probe in the ground he punctured and penetrated the gas main itself. That allowed a high volume off free flowing gas to enter the building,” Coan said.

The worker was following older markings on a sidewalk that located the position of the gas line, but the markings were incorrect, Coan said. “Some old markings that were in the street from some previous work that had been done were not exactly where they should have been and were off a couple of feet. So while the employee thought he was a safe distance from the gas line, in fact he was directly on top of it,” Coan said.

The explosion damaged 115 residential units located in 42 buildings. Officials condemned three of those buildings immediately, and indicated that 24 others need structural inspections by engineers to assess their safety. The blast completely destroyed the gentlemen’s club. Most of the people hurt in the blast were gas workers, firefighters, and police.

Authorities had evacuated several buildings in the area after the pipe was damaged. Springfield Fire Commissioner Joseph Conant commended the department’s firefighters, saying they “did an excellent job evacuating the area which certainly prevented additional civilian injuries and saved many lives.”

Coan said the Department of Public Utilities is now assuming responsibility for the investigation. Initial findings from Columbia gas officials and investigators have ascertained that there are no further gas leaks in the neighborhood, according to Mayor Domenic Sarno.
Columbia Gas announced that it will be opening a claims center for Massachusetts residents and business harmed in the explosion.

Natural Gas Explosions

Natural gas explosions can cause serious harm to individuals, property, and business. Sometimes, a natural gas explosion can occur because of an appliance malfunction that causes hazardous gas accumulations. Appliances that have been linked to natural gas blasts include water heaters, space heaters, gas lights, heating systems, central cooling systems, outdoor grills, ovens, ranges, cooktops, fireplace logs, dryers, gas generators, and pool heaters.

Contact a natural gas explosion attorney at Altman & Altman, LLP to explore your legal options if you have been injured in a natural gas explosion. Our team of attorneys zealously represents people who have been harmed in explosions.

Source: Official: Utility Worker punctured pipe in Springfield gas blast, wcvb.com, November 25, 2012