Explosions occur far too frequently in the United States. They’re simply – and unfortunately – unavoidable.
According to the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in 2018 there were at least 19 incidents involving “gas distribution lines” in the U.S. (gas distribution lines are the smaller pipelines that distribute gas to homes and businesses). Those incidents resulted in two deaths and about 30 injuries.
PHMSA data for the previous two decades shows a total of 646 accidents that resulted in 221 fatalities and 967 injuries. The average number of incidents per year is approximately 25 – or two a month.
Here is a look at the news about two recent explosions:
kills 1; at least 17 hurt
From Fox 46, Charlotte, N.C.: A firefighter and a Dominion Energy employee were among those people injured in a downtown Durham explosion that killed one person.
Durham EMS Assistant Chief Lee Van Vleet told a news conference that 17 people were hospitalized after the Wednesday morning blast partially collapsed a building and set it on fire.
The man who died was identified as Kong Lee, 61, owner of nearby coffee shop Kaffeinate.
An emergency official said six victims were critically injured, and one of them was transferred to a burn unit.
City officials said 11 victims were taken to Duke University Medical Center, and four others were taken to Duke Regional Hospital for treatment. Information on their conditions was not released.
The Durham explosion partially collapsed a building and set it on fire.
Durham Fire Chief Robert Zoldos – who was one of the first responders after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks – told reporters the building looks like the Pentagon after it was hit by a passenger jet flown by terrorists.
Durham Police Department public affairs manager Wil Glenn said a contractor digging under a sidewalk hit a 2-inch gas line, triggering the explosion.
Eyewitnesses said they thought a bomb had gone off or an earthquake had hit after the Durham explosion
City officials tweeted after the Durham explosion that people should avoid the area of Duke and Morgan streets. Additionally, the Durham School of the Arts, which is located near the explosion site, dismissed classes for the day.
Breckenridge home explosion:
Fundraising for victims
From CBS 4, Denver: Workers at a restaurant in Breckenridge, Colorado, are coming together to help a coworker who was injured and lost everything he owned April 4 in a Breckenridge home explosion. Employees at The Canteen Tap House and Tavern are collecting everything from clothes to toothpaste to help Dan Leitch and his roommate, Anthony Arsenault.
The two renters survived the Breckenridge home explosion after literally being blown out of their beds early in the morning. Residents throughout the Colorado mountain town said they could feel the blast.
“It’s crazy. I’m glad I didn’t get tossed up into the trees,” Arsenault told CBS4. “Went to bed … next thing I know, I’m waking up mid-explosion, and yeah, falling out of the air.”
Firefighters say ice and snow fell from the roof and ruptured the gas meter next to the house, located on Royal Tiger Road.
“I had all my hair singed, and eyebrows and eyelashes,” Arsenault said.
Leitch was expected to be released from a Denver hospital today. Arsenault was treated for injuries that included a broken arm and released from the hospital.
The effort to clean up the site of the Breckenridge home explosion is continuing.
Meanwhile, firefighters are reaching out to landlords and management companies in the area to take a look at their homes to prevent more blasts.
Donations for the two men can be dropped off at The Canteen Tap House and Tavern, which is located at 208 North Main Street.
Elliot Olsen has decades of experience representing people harmed in fires and explosions. You can contact him for a free consultation by filling out the following form and submitting it: