Local News

Who's to Blame for Cary Gas Line Rupture?

Posted October 11, 2007

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— A day after a ruptured gas main created a fireball that burned out of control for six hours, closing a major intersection and forcing the evacuation of nearby businesses, officials were trying to determine how a contractor could have drilled into the gas line.

A crew from Fulcher Electric Co., a contractor hired by Cary to install new traffic signals at the intersection of Kildaire Farm Road and Tryon Road, hit an 8-inch steel gas line Wednesday morning. The crew's truck somehow ignited the gas, which erupted into flames that shot 100 feet into the sky, officials said.

Traffic was diverted around the intersection, and some nearby stores and businesses were closed as a safety precaution. No injuries were reported.

Crews with PSNC Energy capped off the damaged line at about 5 p.m. Wednesday, and the fire burned itself out a short time later. Road crews worked overnight to repair the asphalt, which had buckled from the fire's intense heat, and the intersection reopened to traffic Thursday morning.

The incident was the second time in less than a day that a gas line had been punctured by crews working on projects related to the widening of Tryon Road. A Tuesday afternoon rupture at Cary Parkway was capped off quickly without problem.

Cary town engineers met Thursday with officials from Fulcher Electric and from utilities to determine the cause of the incidents.

"We don't know what went wrong," said Joe Moore, a senior engineer with the Cary Engineering Department.

No estimate of the cost for battling the fire and repairing the damage to the gas main and the road had been compiled Thursday. It also was unclear who will be responsible for picking up the tab.

"We will start investigating what occurred. Who was where when? What happened?" said Nicole Hussey, a risk management specialist for Cary. "Once the investigation is completed, then that determination (of who pays) will be made."

The contractor obtained the proper paperwork from Cary to ask utilities to mark their underground lines before drilling took place, Moore said. It was unclear, however, whether the lines were ever marked or if the Fulcher Electric crew missed marks if they were in place.

The fire and the repair work would have eradicated any evidence that the underground lines had been marked. Crews dug up and replaced 8 inches of asphalt over a 100-foot-long section.

"What makes it a little bit more difficult in this case is, with the amount of damage out there, it is going to be hard to trace what marks were (there)," Moore said.

Fulcher Electric said it would dedicate one person on its work crews to making sure paperwork and pavement markings were clear before work started. The company also will dig holes by hand to ensure no utility lines are struck, officials said.

Meanwhile, PSNC officials said they would move gas lines that likely would be in the way of planned construction along Tryon Road. Lines will be moved from two locations near the intersection of Summerwinds Drive and Tryon Road and at Frostwood Drive and Autumn Circle, officials said.

"(We told them to) focus on those three areas to either remove the gas line or relocate it by moving it outside the construction zone or burying it well deep of the excavation area," Moore said.


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  • richard2 Oct 13, 2007

    Cary's fault.

  • getrealpeople Oct 12, 2007

    What's the last thing you hear before the explosion?
    "watch this"

  • whatelseisnew Oct 12, 2007

    It was the fault of the guy that poked the hole in the gas main.

  • NeverSurrender Oct 12, 2007

    "This is not the fault of PSNC. I am sure the gas line route was well marked. The onus lies with the City and its Contractor to avoid drilling thru gas lines. If the gas lines are moved, it will considered a cost of the project."


    So whose fault is it that it took six hours of digging up the road to find the freakin' cut-off valve!

    It reminded me of the same stupid design they used on NCC-1701-D when Geordi and Dr Crusher are fighting a plasma fire in the launch bay. They somehow have to traverse the length of the bay in zero-atmosphere to get to the ONE AND ONLY BUTTON to re-pressurise the deck when they open it to space to put out the fire.

    Hello! Emergency controls should actually be accessible...it shouldn't have taken six hours to isolate that segment of the pipe and burn off the remaining fuel.

    But what am I thinking? This is the same state that thinks that electric wires on poles in a state that gets freezing rain and hurricanes is a grand idea!

  • Adelinthe Oct 12, 2007

    Clearly a case of El Nino or Y2K. Remember how we use to blame everything on those two things a decade ago.

    Still thankful that no one was hurt cause that was one huge candle in the wind.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • Conservative Oct 12, 2007

    "Suprised no one has blamed Bush yet."

    The very first comment posted on page 3 blames Bush. However, no one seems to realize that it was Cheney that made him do it.

  • emtp2k Oct 12, 2007

    The funny thing is that a lot of projects in which cary engineers are involved have trouble with cut gas lines, cut cable lines and power lines. When they widened the road in front of the house that I used to live, there was some sort of utility cut at least twice a week. I spoke with the engineers on several occassions and asked them to have the utilities located everytime someone was digging or grading and their response was that it would be too time consuming and troublesome. Hmm they weren't bothered by the fact that our power was out on numerous occassions, our gas to our heat was cut numerous times in the winter and our cable lines were cut every few days. Cary needs to revamp their whole planning and engineering department.

  • Karmageddon Oct 12, 2007

    Uncle Kraker did it when he stumbled and grabbed the guy drilling the hole

  • mrr03 Oct 12, 2007

    let's see...I think O J is to blame

  • ladyblue Oct 12, 2007

    Cary town engineers met Thursday with officials from Fulcher Electric and from utilities to determine the cause of the incidents.

    "We don't know what went wrong," said Joe Moore, a senior engineer with the Cary Engineering Department.

    DUH Looks like the directions were wrong for the contractor to dig or else he didn't follow orders nor never asked. May they will have to pain the pipes underground to work with Cary's decorum so the pipes won't burst......