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Gas Company Worker’s “Human Error” Blamed for Strip Club Explosion

Strip club, explosion, gas company, gas worker, Columbia Gas, Springfield

Here’s your fail of the week.

The natural gas explosion that took down a Massachusetts strip club, damaged 42 buildings around it and injured 18 people is being blamed on a guy from the gas company who punctured a high pressure pipeline while looking for a gas leak.

According to State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan, the leak was caused by the “human error” of the Columbia Gas worker. He’s not being named and Columbia Gas hasn’t commented.

The worker damaged the underground pipe while using a metal probe, said Coan, and a flood of gas built up in the strip club, where a spark touched off the blast.

The employee was following older markings on a sidewalk, indicating the location of the gas line, following a call Columbia Gas got complaining of a gas odor. He appeared to be the right distance from the line, Coan said, but the marks were wrong and he punctured the pipe.

Authorities evacuated several buildings after the pipe was ruptured, and most of the 18 injured were gas workers, firefighters and police officers who hid behind a utility truck just before the explosion, which damaged 42 buildings, three of which were immediately condemned.

Columbia Gas, a subsidiary of public company NiSource Inc., said Sunday that it plans to open a claims center for those affected by the blast.

Springfield Fire Commissioner Joseph Conant praised the actions of city firefighters:

The firefighters did an excellent job evacuating the area which certainly prevented additional civilian injuries and saved many lives.

Mayor Domenic Sarno said Columbia Gas officials have been cooperating with investigators and have determined that there are no more gas leaks in the neighborhood.

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