It is all too common to hear about gas leaks or gas explosions on the news. When hearing about gas explosions, there is an overwhelming feeling of sympathy for those who have to cope with losing everything including loved ones and absolutely everything they own. Typically, with those sympathetic emotions comes the feeling of empathy where you place yourself in their shoes. Most people are quite aware of the dangers of natural gas but no one wants to deal with them first hand.
For some residents in Bethlehem, PA, they received the scare of a lifetime Wednesday Dec. 28th. A newspaper deliveryman was paying enough attention while doing his route at 3:30 AM, a time when most residents are sleeping. He heard a hissing sound along with a powerful smell of gas. Natural gas was literally pouring out into the street. Natural gas, when mixed with air, is extremely explosive. In the following article by The Morning Call, they discuss the nature of the situation:
Firefighters and UGI workers found gas and water leaks in the sinkhole. Novatnack said the hole included a depression 5 feet across in a front yard and a section of collapsed macadam in the road.
Novatnack said they will not have heat until repairs are completed and the gas and electricity can be turned back on.
Click here to see the rest of this article.
About 30 residents were evacuated and they were not be able to return home until the sinkhole was repaired. In some cases, gas leaks can take days to repair. In the meantime, homeowners have to find accommodations elsewhere while dealing with the constant worry about what might prevail with situations like these.
Natural gas companies usually try to claim that gas leaks occur only in homes where a natural gas heating system has not been professionally maintained. While this is partially true, there are many cases where a gas leak is out of a homeowners control as we clearly see with the sinkhole that happened in Bethlehem. If it weren’t for the awareness and immediate action that the newspaper deliveryman took, these residents may have dealt with far dire circumstances.
It wasn’t too far from home, where Allentown homeowners had to deal with a natural gas leak that led to an explosion. The house at 544 N. 13th St. was completely destroyed and the three adjacent houses were severely burned. Residents needed to evacuate. Some of those individuals resided at the Gross Towers Senior Center, where they depend on constant medical attention. The Morning Call discusses this in detail:
Gross Tower residents ready to settle in for the night were not eager to be evacuated into the frigid darkness. “They’re already getting ticked off,” one hapless official radioed to dispatch. One responder said that a 10th floor resident was refusing to leave his room.
“He’s on oxygen. He’s refusing to leave. He says he can’t leave if he can’t breathe.”
Click here to read the full story.
Many residents of this neighborhood were left without power and the local hospitals were flooded with those who experienced “blast” injuries. The article also has a long list of the notable gas explosions that have occurred in the Lehigh Valley.
Therefore, it is important to maintain all of your natural gas heating system appliances. Furthermore, when you smell gas, either inside of your home or anywhere else, be sure to take action immediately. Natural gas leaks are to be taken seriously because it can cause an explosion which can injure local residents or even cause death. A gas leak or a gas explosion can happen at any time and it certainly can happen close to home.
If you are contemplating a heating oil to natural gas conversion on your heating system, please contact your heating service provider to get the total picture. Many times it does not pay to convert your heater to natural gas.