Deadly gas explosions caused by aging pipeline infrastructure?
Fires can happen without warning, forever changing the lives of victims and their families in an instant. Burn injuries are some of the most debilitating that a Missouri or Illinois resident can endure. Something that can make such catastrophic injuries seem even more tragic is when the incident causing them was preventable. Gas explosions, for instance, are one preventable manner in which unexpected fires leading to death occur.
One such tragic gas explosion occurred in February of this year, resulting in the death of an 8-year-old boy who was on his way home from school. The little boy was walking past a rowhouse in another state when a gas explosion occurred. The explosion caused bricks and debris to shoot out into the surrounding area, in addition to igniting an extensive fire.
Tragically, emergency workers later uncovered the 8-year-old boy’s body buried beneath the rowhouse’s side wall, which had collapsed in the explosion. Three other individuals suffered significant injuries in the gas explosion; including another child outside and two adults inside the home at the time. All three required transportation to area hospitals to receive treatment for the injuries they sustained.
This fatal explosion seems even more senseless because Fire Department officials have determined it likely came about because of a natural gas leak. They further stated that, while they could not yet report the precise cause for the gas leak, natural gas had likely come into contact with something like the home’s water heater or furnace, causing it to then ignite. In the wake of this tragedy, the little boy’s family has filed a civil lawsuit against Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. Their lawsuit claims that the utility company chose to ignore the fact that pipes under its control were failing, something which led to the subsequent leak and deadly explosion.
The lawsuit further alleges that BGE had the responsibility for maintaining its deteriorating pipes throughout that area of Baltimore. Due to this apparent failure, the family believes that cold weather contributed to natural gas gathering beneath the rowhouse’s basement and the nearby street, and this is what directly caused or contributed to the 8-year-old boy’s untimely death. They are seeking more than $75,000 worth of monetary damages in connection with this explosion.
While many of our readers might breathe a sigh of relief that this did not happen in Missouri or Illinois, the unfortunate truth is that many cities across the nation have the same kind of aging infrastructure that can easily lead to this type of deadly explosion. New York City, for instance, has about 3,000 miles of old, cast-iron pipes which pump gas throughout that metropolis each day. Boston and Philadelphia have approximately 2,000 and 1,500 miles of such piping, respectively.
Many of these systems were first instituted in the 1800s, when mostly cast iron and steel were used to pipe gas to homes and businesses alike. Since that time, a patchwork of cast iron, steel, coated steel, bare steel and plastic have been installed throughout the nation. The problem with cast iron is that, while it might appear in pretty good shape on first glance, it is extremely prone to cracking due to events like frost and earth movement events, such as earthquakes.
It seems like replacing these pipelines is a no-brainer, even if it might take time to accomplish such a big undertaking. Unfortunately, however, price seems to be a big factor in upgrading this aging natural gas piping infrastructure. One expert in gas safety says that upgrading this infrastructure will require a big investment of both time and money.
Unfortunately for innocent victims like the 8-year-old Baltimore boy and his family, the cost in not properly maintaining gas pipelines is even higher: it can and does cost people their lives.
If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries due to gas explosions, please consider calling 1-888-586-7041 to arrange a free initial consultation. My St. Louis personal injury law firm is experienced in trying civil lawsuits in Missouri and Illinois, and we will collect no fees until — and only if — we gain compensation for you or your family. We know that burn injuries from fires and explosions can be devastating, and we take each case on a contingency basis in the hopes we can help our clients obtain the financial restitution to which they are entitled.
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Source Article: “BGE is sued over gas explosion that killed 8-year-old boy” by Carrie Wells, The Baltimore Sun. Also “Aging Natural Gas Pipes: How Safe Are Our Cities?” from Here and Now, NPR.