Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Blast buckles the walls of Allegheny County home

Many Allegheny County residents use natural gas as a home heating source, but property owners may not give much thought to the dangers associated with the product. Consumers rely upon gas companies, installers and appliance manufacturers to adhere to strict regulations, so chances of a fire and explosion are minimal.

While a property owner can trigger an explosion or fire – for example, by accidentally digging up a gas pipe - a utility company also may be blamed. Old pipes and fittings may cause gas leaks that can be ignited with any spark. Liability cannot be determined until the source of an explosion is clear.

A recent blast in Brentwood was powerful enough to buckle the walls of a home. A man who lived there told firefighters he was walking up the steps from the basement when there was an explosion. Rescuers found the 69-year-old man outside the house, suffering from serious back and head burns.

A natural gas leak is suspected, although other possible sources are being examined. The homeowner operated a gun shop in the basement, where investigators believe the blast originated. Emergency crews were unable to get close to the home, as ammunition exploded during the fire.

The home was so structurally unstable after the devastation that Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigators, on site because the gun shop was federally licensed, could not enter the premises.

The gas utility company sent crews to neighboring houses to check for leaks. None were found. There had been another explosion a few doors away from the property in 2007, although reports did not say what caused that blast.

A gas leak may not be obvious until a homeowner or someone else is injured or dies. Attorneys who work on cases like these for plaintiffs must understand the unique nature of fires and explosions to gather evidence of negligence.

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "Man critically injured in house explosion in Brentwood" Michael Hasch, Feb. 06, 2014

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
20 Stanwix Street, Seventh Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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