Authorities: Human Error Caused Springfield Gas Explosion

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Officials say gas company worker punctured gas line (Published Friday, Jan 17, 2014)

    (NECN) - The Massachusetts Department of Fire Services issued a press release on Sunday outlining the cause of the gas explosion that rocked Springfield, Mass., on Friday.

    According to the press release, the explosion was the result of human error. Investigators said that it was one of the gas company's workers that punctured a gas line.

    NECN's Kristen Caira has more from Springfield in the video above.

    The press release, in part, reads:

    "There was a report of a gas odor inside the building at 453 Worthington Street on Friday to which the local gas utility responded. The joint investigation is still looking to see if they can determine the source of that odor given that the building no longer exists.

    "By methodically examining and testing different segments of the gas infrastructure investigators were able to conclude that there was no leak of gas from the main in the street. They have determined that human error as opposed to a fault of the gas infrastructure provided the fuel for the explosion. Exactly whose human error will be the subject of the Department of Public Utilities’ on-going investigation.

    "The gas company employee smelled gas at the threshold of the building, but metered no gas inside. He began to search outside the building using a metal probe to make holes in order to measure gas. His examination appears to have been an appropriate distance from where older markings on the sidewalk indicated where the gas line was. However, the markings were incorrect and his metal probe inadvertently punctured the high-pressure gas line right at the foundation of the building.

    "Investigators recovered the section of pipe that clearly shows the hole in the pipe that matches the metal probe. This hole was right at the foundation of the building on the sidewalk side.

    "At that point he called the fire department and for the gas company to shut off the gas. The fire department evacuated the area, which certainly saved many lives. The investigative team believes that the gas from the leak entered the building around the pipe and at some point reached the correct explosive level of gas and air, which was ignited by any of many possible ignition sources inside the building. Past investigations have shown there are too many possible ignition sources in theses cases to pinpoint one, but the most important information is the source of the fuel.

    Investigators expect to finish the scene examination today."