NBC10 Philadelphia reports that the explosion of a New Jersey couple’s home will result in lawsuits against a propane gas company and its contracted affiliates. According to the couple, the McCarthy’s, the gas company was responsible for removing the propane tank months before the explosion.
The couple alleges that during an appointment with the gas company to change their home gas source from propane to natural gas, the gas company cut propane lines and failed to remove the propane tank from the property. According to Cape May County Fire Marshal’s office, the root cause of the explosion was a gas leak. The location of gas lines beneath the surface prevented reasonable detection of associated hazards, and left the McCarthy’s with no knowledge of the propane tank’s existence.
Both husband and wife were home at the time of the explosion and sustained severe burns, as reported by New York Daily News. According to NBC10, the day before the explosion, the McCarthy’s received assistance in lighting their gas fireplace from a neighbor, who opened up the valve and sent propane gas through the pipelines. When Mr. McCarthy turned on the shower, it ignited the hot water heater and caused the explosion. The effects of the explosion were felt over a mile away.
Gas explosions have become an increasing concern in the United States. According to the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), natural gas distribution lines were associated with 71 gas explosions in 2012. The explosions resulted in nine fatalities and over 21 injuries. Since 1986, Texas has accounted for over 21 percent of all gas line explosions. PHMSA reports suggest that improper monitoring and maintenance of pipelines is the primary cause of these incidents.