Gas company takes blame for explosion

Five people hurt from blast due to missing equipment

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A gas company is taking the blame for an explosion near Pittsburgh that reduced a home to a pile of rubble and injured five people.

Columbia Gas on Thursday said they failed to install a key piece of equipment in the home while workers nearby upgraded a gas main.

Workers didn’t realize the home was connected to the section of gas main that was being worked on, and a pressure regulator was never added to the home, said Mike Huwar, the company’s president.

When the new system was engaged, the elevated pressure led to a leak and caused Wednesday’s blast, he said.

“Our customers deserve safe and reliable delivery of natural gas to their homes,” Huwar said. “We failed to deliver on our mission in this instance, and we are deeply sorry.”

Officials with North Franklin Township have barred the company from doing any work in the community until further notice. Officials said they also want Columbia Gas to pay for cleanup and repairs to the area where the explosion happened.

“The fact that a mistake of this magnitude occurred is incredibly irresponsible and is incredibly negligent,” said North Franklin Township Supervisor Bob Sabot.

The township is holding a community meeting on Aug. 13 at 5 p.m. at the fire department and is inviting Columbia Gas to attend and answer questions from the community.

“How do you ensure a frazzled community that a negligent act which resulted in literally a house blowing up is simply an isolated event,” Sabot said.

The home exploded around 4 p.m. Wednesday, just as firefighters arrived to check reports of a gas smell in the area. All that remains of the home is debris, some of which hangs in the trees above the site.

The homeowner, a neighbor and three firefighters were hurt, but their injuries are not life threatening.