Natural Gas Line Explodes In Salt Lake
Jun. 23, 2004

Video news report:
http://tv.ksl.com/index.php?sid=102482&nid=8

A gas line exploded today in Salt Lake and sent a Roto-Rooter employee to the hospital with burns. The explosion set off a fire.

42-year-old Per Lindgaard was working on a water line here in this parking lot utility pit. While he was working and digging, he hit an underground natural gas line. The gas set off what fire officials say was a small explosion and then a fire. Employees at nearby businesses heard and saw the commotion.

"Alex Guanuna, Farid's Auto: WE HEARD LIKE SOMETHING EXPLODE. FIRE DEPARTMENT CAME AND TOLD US TO GO OUTSIDE THE BUILDING BECAUSE IT WAS SMELLING GAS AND STUFF, YOU KNOW."

"Victor Galindo, Victor's Tires & Custom Wheels: I WAS SCARED. I SAW A FLAME COMING UP ABOUT 7, 8 FEET HIGH. I WAS WORRIED CAUSE THE FLAMES COULD HAVE SPLIT AND SPREAD AROUND AND WE GOT TIRES HERE. AND TIRES ARE REALLY HARD, IF THEY CAUGHT ON FIRE, IT'S TOUGH."

The Salt Lake Fire Department came in and sprayed the area. You may notice they're not spraying the actual flames. In a gas fire like this, crews work to keep the surrounding area cool so nothing else catches fire and the workers stay safe.

Meanwhile, Questar Gas Company responded. They dug up the main gas valve and clamped it off. Shuting down the gas shut down the fire. The fire department says any time someone is digging underground, they should call the Blue Stake Center. This is a call center that dispatches different utility groups to see what kind of lines are underground.

In this case, Roto-Rooter had made those calls. You can see the markings in orange pointing to the phone lines, and the yellow lines point to the gas line. So employees should have known where this main was. But the accident still happened. Lindgaard was taken by ambulance to University Medical Center. He had second-degree burns on both arms.