Drill nicks gas line causing foul-smelling mess for sign installer

The scene of a ruptured 2-inch gas line near Bloomington Hills Elementary caused by a construction accident, St. George, Utah, Nov. 19, 2018 | Photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — It was one of those Mondays for one unlucky construction worker after he struck a natural gas line while drilling a hole in the ground for the installation of a new sign in Bloomington Hills.

The scene of a ruptured 2-inch gas line near Bloomington Hills Elementary caused by a construction accident, St. George, Utah, Nov. 19, 2018 | Photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

At approximately 9:30 a.m firefighters from the St. George Fire Department were dispatched to the parking lot of KB Express at 930 E. Brigham Road after being alerted to a large amount of natural gas spewing high into the air.

The pungent foul smell was overwhelming to everyone in the area including nearby office workers and employees from Bloomington Hills Elementary who called the fire department with concerns about the odor.

Firefighters encountered a thick haze in the air from the dust created by the gas shooting above two construction vehicles, within a couple of feet from a new commercial building.

“We put on our SBAs (self-contained breathing apparatus) just in case there was a potential hazard,” St. George firefighter Kirk McAllister said. “The wind did shift toward us so we donned our masks just to be safe from the gas.”

A supervisor from the sign company told St. George News that a call had been placed to utility line locating services before construction was scheduled and said he was unsure as to why the line was in that location.

The scene of a ruptured 2-inch gas line near Bloomington Hills Elementary caused by a construction accident, St. George, Utah, Nov. 19, 2018 | Photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

While drilling a new foundation for a large advertising sign, his installer had ruptured  an underground tee connection on a 2-inch gas line heading into the building with a commercial auger.

The worker called him to assist after exiting his vehicle and calling the authorities.

Painted markings from the utility companies, as required by law, were visible near the digging location, indicating that it was safe to dig.

A representative from ELM, a Montana-based utility location service, responded to the scene but declined to comment.

Blue Stakes of Utah, whose mission is to process the utility locating requests and provide a link between construction companies and utility location services before excavation begins, also declined to provide information on the incident to St. George News.

Representatives from Dominion Energy arrived shortly after firefighters and determined that a bigger repair crew with a backhoe and special crimping device would have to be called in to shut off the pressure to the line so repairs could be made. A large hole had to be dug in the middle of the newly paved parking lot to reach a suitable location.

As part of their normal operations for a gas line leak, firefighters hooked up to a fire hydrant at the gas station next door and deployed water hoses to the scene, but they remained unused.

“We don’t want to spray water on it until there is some actual spark or flames that are present,” McAllister said, adding that if it did flame up they would just allow it to burn and be there just in case the nearby structures caught fire.

“The vehicles were a foot away from the gas leak so we wanted to be sure if anything externally did catch fire that we were prepared and ready for it,” McAllister said.

Several workers from Dominion Energy were on-site for three hours repairing the line before other construction workers could return to the area.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Email: apinckney@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @andrewjpinckney

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.