Posted on Thursday, February 7th, 2019 at 9:57 am
A San Francisco gas line exploded around 1 p.m. yesterday afternoon in the Jordan Park neighborhood, swallowing the Hong Kong Lounge II restaurant and its upstairs units in flames. The spokesman for the San Francisco Fire Department (SFFD) said multiple people were rescued during the incident. As of 3:35 p.m., the fire was out, though firefighters were still working on making sure the area was free from any secondary flashes.
The blaze from the gas line caused a column of fire that reached higher than the neighborhood’s buildings. While it burned, the SFFD worked to evacuate the area and San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White noted that firefighters had to surround and douse the fire the best they could until Pacific Gas & Electric, the major energy company in Northern California, shut off the gas line. It took around two-and-a-half hours for PG&E to finally shut down the line.
By the time all the flames had been put out, four buildings had been affected.
Although cutting the line to the area affected the gas of over 300 people and electricity to over 2,500, PG&E considered shutting down a much bigger gas line, which would have made the gas outage cover the entire city.
Stopping the Fire
To access the line to stop the flow of gas, PG&E crew were forced to dig underground. The company’s spokeswoman Melissa Subbotin said they were able to stop the flow by pinching a 4-inch plastic gas line while also using a manual shut off.
Thankfully, there were no fatalities or injuries resulting from the blast and blaze, which is an even more remarkable feat when looking at the extensive damage done to the structure. While there was a moment of apprehension while looking for five missing workers, they were later found safe.
At this time, it is believed that the incident was caused by workers using a backhoe in front of the restaurant. While installing fiber optic cables for a nearby business, they apparently cut a natural gas line, resulting in the explosion.
Gas Line Explosions in the U.S.
While the exceptional emergency response to the San Francisco gas line explosion led to an astounding zero injuries or death, many involved in similar incidents around the country have not been so lucky.
In September of 2018, northern Massachusetts had a reported 50 homes catch fire from individual explosions covering three cities. Investigators to this event said that Columbia Gas didn’t tell workers to take pressure sensors offline before removing an old gas main from the system. That resulted in the sensors noticing the pressure drop, which told the system to increase pressure to the gas line. Mere moments after this occurrence, homes in North Andover, Andover, and Lawrence started exploding from the increased force in the pipes. One of the blasts caused a chimney to fall on top of an occupied vehicle, killing the driver. The Massachusetts explosions caused twenty-one injuries, two of which were firefighters.
On March 12, 2014, East Harlem shook shook when a gas explosion took down two five-story apartment buildings. A gas leak was identified as the cause of this blast. Eight people died, dozens were injured, and at least 100 families were displaced.
While incidents such as these used to demand much more attention from the news, gas line and gas pipeline accidents have become far more common in the U.S. since the early 2000’s. Rural, metropolitan, and suburban areas are all at risk from any number of errors caused by gas and energy distribution. These have lead to extensive deaths, injuries, and property damage across the country, and there may be little to slow down these occurrences as our culture becomes increasingly dependent on gas, oil, natural gas, electricity, and other forms of energy.
Seeking Legal Counsel for Compensation After a Gas Explosion
If you were injured in a gas explosion or fire, or a loved one was hurt or died in one, you may be offered a settlement by the company at fault for your pain and suffering. However, settlement amounts are determined by insurance companies, corporate lawyers, and their clients. Their best interest is rarely to ever fully rectify a situation. Instead, they are looking at their bottom line. And once someone accepts a settlement like this, they are also forced into waiving their rights to ever sue the company again should any long-term injuries or complications arise.
With over three decades of experience in cases involving workplace accidents, personal injuries, wrongful death, and serious explosions, the attorneys at Williams Hart will fight for your rights as the injured or bereaved to help you receive full compensation.
Contact us today to set up a free consultation where we will discuss the specifics of your case and determine your best course of action. Call (713) 230-2200.