Gas Line Leak Probable Cause Of Home Explosion : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Gas Line Leak Probable Cause Of Home Explosion

Source: The Tennessean Publication date: Feb 03, 2000

BRENTWOOD A natural gas line leak to an outdoor pool heater is the likely cause of an explosion last week that demolished a home on Old Hickory Boulevard and injured its owner.

The gas line was sized too small for the heater, and increased gas pressure may have caused the line to rupture, speculated Brentwood's Fire Marshal Andy King.

That, or the gas line, which was covered by concrete, may have pulled away from the gas meter in the cold weather, King said. Moisture may have also been inside the line, causing it to freeze and crack.

The house at 1555 Old Hickory Blvd. exploded Jan. 28, after owner Dr. Anthony Urbanek lit a candle to rid the house of a bad odor. King said Urbanek, a plastic surgeon, may not have recognized that the smell was natural gas, because it had filtered through soil outside, up through the wall, and into the kitchen, possibly changing the characteristic rotten egg smell.

`That would have given the gas a musty odor,` King said. And, the gas concentration in the house was so high, that Urbanek may have become sensitized to the smell, or, hypoxic (when less oxygen is in body tissues). "That's when your actions aren't as accurate,` King explained. "It's almost like being suffocated.`

Urbanek was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center with burns to his face and hands. He has since been released. The Urbaneks' two children were at school when the explosion occurred.

The gas built up within the explosive limits for natural gas, between 4% and 14%. `Somewhere in that range. Had it been more than that, it wouldn't have ignited,` King noted, because the gas and air mixture would have been too rich.

`The gas line was located within a foot or less under the concrete. It's lighter than air, and follows the path of least resistance. It got out at the edge of the concrete, built up inside the wall on the first level, and rose up into the kitchen level,` King said.

Representatives of Urbanek's insurance company were at the house to remove concrete and determine the true cause of the explosion, according to King.

A fire after the explosion caused most of the damage.

`We also had a delayed alarm when the explosion happened. We didn't have fire units on the scene until 12 minutes later,` King said. The burglar alarm went off at 8:48 a.m., but the first 911 call didn't reach emergency dispatch until 8:54 a.m. Dr. Urbanek's cell phone, and cordless house phone, weren't working, and no one noticed the flames licking out the windows, until the house was fully involved.

Preliminary damages are in excess of $500,000.

Publication date: Feb 03, 2000 ) 2000, NewsReal, Inc.


-- Carl Jenkins (, February 15, 2000


And an explosion in Britain. BBC< /a>

(for educational purposes only)

"Tuesday, 15 February, 2000, 21:51 GMT

Twenty missing after explosion

Twenty people are feared missing after an explosion ripped through a block of flats.

More than 60 firefighters were called to tackle a blaze caused by the blast, which damaged a residential block adjacent to a Territorial Army base in Holloway, north London, according to a Fire Service spokesman.

He added that the explosion, at 2025 GMT on Wednesday, could have been caused by gas.

It is unclear how many people, if any, could have been injured in the blast which destroyed roughly one third of the building, he said.

A Fire Brigade spokeswoman added: "A search of the building is taking place with our assistance. We have a report that up to 20 people have not been accounted for and we are proceeding on that basis."

Police cordon

Dozens of police officers were drafted in to seal off the area around the building, which is less than 300 yards away from Holloway prison, on Parkhurst Road, leading off Holloway Road.

BBC Online's political correspondent Nick Assinder, who was nearby at the time of the explosion, said it was clearly not caused by a bomb.

He said: "I've served in Northern Ireland and I know the sound of a bomb going off.

"But it was still powerful. I was sitting down having my dinner when I heard it. The whole building shook."

-- Rachel Gibson (, February 15, 2000.

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