Home explosions and fires occur far too frequently in the United States.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments respond to an average of one home fire every 88 seconds. Between 2012 and 2016, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 355,400 home structure fires per year, fires that caused 11,670 civilian injuries, 2,560 civilian deaths, and $6.5 billion in direct damage.
Here is a look at a recent home explosion, as well as a recent pipeline explosion that continues to make headlines and pipeline plans that have residents up in arms:
Lawton home explosion:
Body found in rubble
From Associated Press: Authorities in southwestern Oklahoma said a body was discovered in the charred rubble of a Lawton home explosion.
TV station KSWO reported that the explosion occurred shortly before 7 a.m. Saturday in Lawton, about 78 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.
Neighbors said they believed the residence was vacant, but emergency responders say they discovered the remains of a body inside after the flames were extinguished. The identity of the person and other details, including whether the person was a man or a woman, have not been released.
The state Medical Examiner’s Office is working to determine the identity of the body and the cause of death. The cause of the explosion and fire is under investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
(Note: KSWO-TV is an ABC-affiliated TV station licensed to Lawton and serving the western Texoma area, which encompasses Southwestern Oklahoma and Western North Texas.)
Kentucky pipeline explosion:
History of deadly accidents
From Louisville Courier Journal: A natural gas pipeline in Kentucky that exploded Aug. 1 and killed one person has a history of deadly accidents.
The Courier Journal reported that six people in Kentucky and nine people in total have died in gas explosions along the Texas Eastern pipeline since 1985. The pipeline stretches from Texas to New York, and almost all of its nearly 700 miles that run through Kentucky pre-date 1970.
An investigation of the Texas Eastern pipeline, which is owned by Canadian multinational Enbridge Inc., found that it exploded in 1985 and 1986 in Kentucky, killing five people. Federal officials said those explosions were due to corroding pipes. They also said corrosion caused about 30 percent of the 83 significant Texas Eastern incidents since 1986.
The cause of this month’s blast still is under investigation.
Enbridge pipeline plans
draw criticism in Ohio
From Associated Press: Enbridge Inc. is also at the center of controversy in Ohio. The company is planning to replace a half-mile section of a high-pressure natural gas pipeline because it runs through an area more heavily populated than originally calculated, raising the ire of a community that fought to stop its construction in the first place.
Adam Parker – a spokesman for Calgary-based Enbridge, which operates the NEXUS Gas Transmission pipeline – said the segment being replaced in the northeastern Ohio city of Green needs thicker walls “in order to allow us to operate the system in accordance with regulatory requirements” for permitted peak gas demand, the Akron Beacon Journal reported. The 255-mile-long pipeline stretches across northern Ohio and into Michigan.
The project has faced resistance from day one, but nowhere was that opposition more fervent than in Green, which filed lawsuits and tried to convince the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to order the partnership to move the pipeline away from its thriving middle-class community.
In late 2017, Mayor Gerard Neugebauer told the Associated Press that a study showed the pipeline would cost the city tens of millions of dollars in lost economic opportunities. Still, in February 2018 Green agreed to a $7.5 million settlement with Enbridge and DTE to end the litigation, which many residents and some City Council members vehemently opposed. Neugebauer said then that Green had no choice because it could not stop the pipeline from being built.
Councilman Steve Dyer, a fierce critic of the pipeline, said he wants to know if the replacement project has anything to do with the Kentucky pipeline explosion. The explosion sent a ball of flames 300 feet (91 meters) into the air.
“I’m extremely concerned,” Dyer said.
Parker said there is no link between the project and the explosion. He said the company is working with the three Green residents affected by the $8.5 million project. Work is expected to begin by early October.
Green city spokeswoman Valerie Wolford said Enbridge “put a perfectly good section of pipe in the ground” that was within regulatory limits.
Diane Petralla, who lives about 500 feet from the project site, said she is “disgusted.” She said neighbors who put their homes up for sale had to pull them from the market because they could not find buyers.
“Every time I hear fireworks I jump,” Petralla said. “In the future, I’m going to get the hell out of Green.”
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: