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  1. #1
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Post Port Charlotte Fl--Gas leak forces evacuation

    sun-Herald.com

    Gas leak on Gardner Drive


    PORT CHARLOTTE -- Three workers from Pike Electric struck a liquid petroleum line at 4086 Gardner Drive Friday morning, while installing a telephone pole.

    The leaking petroleum gas forced several homes to be evacuated and closed Gardner Drive.

    Greg Gilmore, truck operator for Pike Electric, said there were no markings indicating the presence of the gas pipe. The only marking present, a blue-painted line nearby, showed the existence of a water line.

    Gilmore said the auger truck drilled into the three-quarter-inch pipe, and immediately sent out a rush of gas.

    "Sand just started spewing out of the ground," Gilmore said. "That's all you could see."

    Three Charlotte County fire trucks, three county EMS units and two American Gas trucks arrived on the scene.

    Charlotte County Fire Chief, Dennis DiDio, said a similar accident happened last week with a different gas company.

    DiDio said the fire department plugged the hole and the gas company put a final cap on it.

    Although he said there was no immediate danger, DiDio said the houses were evacuated because of gas blowing across the street.

    "There's always a danger if it's leaking," DiDio said. "All it needs to find is an ignition source."

    But that didn't keep Vladimir Klotschkow of Gardner Drive from mowing his lawn. He said he learned of the leak when fire trucks rushed by his house.

    "I'm sure if there was a real danger, they'd chase us away," Klotschkow said.

    You can e-mail Gavin Off at goff@sun-herald.com


    By GAVIN OFF

    Staff Writer
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.


  2. #2
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Post follow up story

    SUN-HERALD.com

    Accident spawns chain reaction

    Officials tackle five wrecks, two blazes and gas leak


    PORT CHARLOTTE -- A freak accident that injured two electrical workers Tuesday afternoon caused a bizarre domino effect of incidents -- a large power outage, five wrecks, a day care center fire, a gas leak, a house fire and an evacuation of several homes along Gardner Drive.

    Children were safely evacuated from the day care center, but the two male workers were flown to Lee Memorial Hospital. Remarkably, there were no other serious injuries caused by the accident's chain reaction.

    "It's really true that for every action there's a reaction," said Charlotte County Fire & EMS spokeswoman Dee Hawkins. "I don't think anything like this has happened in a long time."

    The events began around 3:20 p.m. Tuesday when two Florida Power & Light subcontractors from Pike Electric were shocked while working on a power line on Gardner Drive off U.S. 41.

    "Somehow, one of the workers made contact with the line ... he then made contact with the other worker," Hawkins said.

    Both were airlifted to the Fort Myers hospital. One worker suffered burns to his head, face and neck. The other was unconscious. At the hospital, both men were conscious and able to speak with relatives, said Charlotte County Sheriff's Cpl. Kenn Watson. According to WINK-TV, one of the men was transported to a burn unit in Tampa.

    A nursing supervisor at Lee Memorial said man named Ricky Messner was airlifted to the Fort Myers facility and later taken to a burn unit in Tampa. She could not say whether the man was involved in the Port Charlotte accident.

    This accident caused a large power outage in the Port Charlotte and Charlotte Harbor areas, affecting 1,857 customers, knocking out six traffic lights and contributing to five wrecks with two minor injuries, said Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Allen Williams. Two Sheriff's deputies were involved in the wrecks, though neither suffered severe injuries.

    After the two electrical workers were hurt, the snapped power line began flopping around on Gardner Drive, hitting a day care center. The day care center, Karen's Kiddie Korrall, caught fire around 4 p.m. and all 24 kids were evacuated safely, Hawkins said.

    "The line just exploded -- all I could see was that line flopping," said witness Tammy Hight, who works nearby at Best Coast Insurance. "We helped get kids out (of the day care center). I'm very surprised we weren't hurt. We're just trying to regain our senses."

    Firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze that burned portions of the roof and exterior of the day care center, located at 4021 Gardner Drive.

    "It's not a total loss," said Emergency Management Director Wayne Sallade. "There is no damage to the interior."

    After battling the day care center fire, officials were investigating the odor of gas coming from a nearby residence on the south end of Gardner.

    Things appeared to be winding down shortly before 4:45 p.m., and Fire Chief Dennis DiDio was getting ready to go home when a loud boom signaled another strange event.

    Firefighters running to investigate found black smoke and flames pouring from the residence where the gas odor had earlier been detected.

    A power line came across the house and caused the gas line to "pop or crack," Hawkins said. The house filled with gas, found an ignition source and exploded into flames.

    No one was inside the home at the time and no emergency workers were injured during the explosion or fire, Hawkins said.

    "They can't live in it," Hawkins said of the 4054 Gardner Drive residence. "It's gone. The inside is trashed."

    Residents along Gardner Drive were evacuated and several remained out of their homes for hours as officials continued to search for the gas leak.

    Around 8:15 p.m., the gas leak was contained and residents began returning to their residences.

    "It was pretty overwhelming," Hawkins said. "The crews did a really good job handling it, between the Sheriff's Office, Fire & EMS and the power company.

    "It's amazing how one event can chain react into so many other events," Hawkins added.

    Or, as one witness called it: "Murphy's Law."

    You can e-mail Christy Arnold at arnold@sun-herald.com
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  3. #3
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Post Follow up--OSHA Investigates

    SUN-Herald.com

    OSHA to investigate Gardner Drive accident

    Federal agency to look at electrical contractor's safety precautions


    PORT CHARLOTTE -- The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be investigating the Pike Electric accident Tuesday on Gardner Drive.

    "We just found out this morning," Les Grove said Thursday. Grove is the area director in OSHA's Tampa office.

    A chain-reaction series of events erupted when two Florida Power & Light subcontractors from Pike Electric were shocked Tuesday while working on a power line along Gardner Drive in Port Charlotte

    After the two men were injured, a large power outage followed, which contributed to five minor vehicle wrecks in the Port Charlotte area. A downed power line grazed a day-care center on Gardner Drive, scorched by fire, and Gardner Drive residents Kay and Ken Kuriger's home exploded.

    The two Pike Electric employees were airlifted to the Fort Myers hospital. One worker suffered burns to his head, face and neck.

    One of the employees, Ricky Messner, was taken to a burn unit in Tampa. Pike Electric's Human Resources vice president Zack Blackman said Thursday Messner is expected to be released from the Tampa hospital in the next two days.

    Blackman said his company has sent its own investigators from its North Carolina home office to Port Charlotte.

    "I don't want to speculate on what I think happened," Blackman said. "What happened has yet to be determined."

    FP&L is also investigating the incident.

    "We put a great deal of emphasis on safety for our workers, contractors and customers," FP&L spokeswoman Kathy Scott said Thursday.

    Officials with the State Fire Marshal's Office will not be investigating the accident since the cause is known and arson is not suspected.

    An OSHA investigation can take a month to six months to complete. The investigators look for any violations of federal safety standards.

    According OSHA's Internet site, the federal agency cited Pike Electric for 10 serious safety violations in March 2001 and proposed $61,000 in penalties after a worker was electrocuted in Loganville, Ga. The employee, working in an elevated lineman's bucket, was electrocuted on Sept. 11, 2000, when he came in contact with a 14,400-volt power line.

    Electrical accidents and fatal electrocutions in the workplace aren't unusual.

    According to "Workers Death by Electrocution," a 1998 OSHA investigative report, 5,348 workers were fatally electrocuted on their jobs from 1980 to 1992. An average of 411 workers died annually, and it was the fifth leading cause of death in the workplace.

    The same OSHA report included a study of 224 electrocutions and found five common factors:

    * Safety work procedures were not implemented or followed.

    * Workers did not wear personal protective equipment or were not provided safety equipment.

    * "Lockout/tagout" procedures to control the electrical energy were not implemented or followed.

    * Failure to follow OSHA and other safety regulations.

    * Worker and supervisor training in electrical safety was inadequate.

    You can e-mail Steve Reilly at reilly@sun-herald.com
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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