Monday, January 24, 2011

Ohio Gas Explosion , Natural Gas Blast : In Ohio Town

FAIRPORT HARBOR, Ohio — Built-up pressure in natural gas lines led to a house explosion, a series of fires and a brief evacuation order on a frigid morning Monday for an Ohio village of about 3,000 people, none of whom appeared to be injured.

At least 15 fires were reported in homes, apartments and other buildings in Fairport Harbor, a lakefront village on Lake Erie about 30 miles northeast of Cleveland. All had been extinguished by mid-afternoon, said Tom Talcott, deputy chief of the fire department in nearby Mentor.The fires rendered several structures uninhabitable, Talcott said. Officials were still checking homes in late afternoon to make sure no gas built up in unoccupied ones during the day.Authorities say built-up pressure in natural gas lines led to the fires, and an explosion in one house.

The village of Fairport Harbor, with a population of about 3,000, was briefly ordered evacuated - but when the situation stabilized, people were told to stay indoors and turn off the gas. Evacuated residents who had gathered at a community center are now returning home.

Temperatures were well below freezing at the time of the explosion, and residents who evacuated went to a community center. Jeff Zidonis, spokesman for gas company Dominion East Ohio, couldn't say whether the cold was a factor in the pressure problems that led to the explosion.The fires affected homes, apartments and other buildings and severely damaged at least two, Talcott said. Authorities received more than two dozen calls from people reporting gas odors.An evacuation had been ordered, but residents instead were soon directed to instead turn off gas lines and stay inside when the situation stabilized.

Nearly the whole village was affected, Talcott said, but he didn’t have an estimate of how many residents had evacuated.Residents who had gathered at a community center began returning home, and some were told gas company representatives would check each home and repair any damage."We have several roads blocked with fire hose, very icy conditions from the water runoff, and we're better off if people stay put," he said.

Hopefully we'll get everybody up and go home and make sure our house is OK, and make sure there's no water exploding out of pipes from being frozen," said Dorothy Tye, 45, who left at 7:30 a.m. after discovering that the furnace wasn't working. "That's what we're hoping for."Tye, who evacuated with her husband and elderly mother, had also brought along the family's pet bunny rabbit, Snickers.

Dominion East Ohio said that the gas line system was back to normal pressure and that the problems appeared to have been isolated to one part of town.

Ohio Gas Explosion Natural Gas Blast : Full Video

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