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Report: Ruptured Cary Gas Line Properly Marked

Posted December 27, 2007
Updated December 28, 2007

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— An underground gas main that exploded into a fireball two months ago after being ruptured by an electrical contractor was properly marked, according to a report issued Thursday.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission report contradicts preliminary findings issued by Cary officials two weeks after the Oct. 10 incident. Local officials said PSNC Energy, which owns the gas main, failed to mark the line before Fulcher Electric Co. drilled a hole for a new traffic signal at the intersection of Kildaire Farm and Tryon roads.

A Fulcher Electric crew punctured the 8-inch line, and escaping gas ignited, sending flames shooting more than 100 feet into the air. The gas burned for about six hours before PSNC crews were able to cap the line, and the fire and resulting road repairs forced the closure of the busy intersection for a day.

The 72-page report issued by the Utilities Commission didn't place blame for the incident, which caused $285,955 in damage. But the findings issued indicated that PSNC had clearly marked the gas line, noting a series of yellow marks across Tryon Road were in line with the hole the Fulcher Electric crew drilled and a faded mark on Kildaire Farm Road also was in the same line.

The commission said an on-site meeting between the Fulcher Electric Crew and PSNC managers could have averted the rupture by narrowing down possible excavation locations.

"This report confirms what we’ve maintained since the incident occurred – that PSNC Energy appropriately marked the pipeline and that our marks were accurate and visible," company spokeswoman Angie Townsend said in a statement.

PSNC crews painted the marks at the contractor's request, which was submitted in September, according to the report. The markings are good for 15 working days from the request date.

On Oct. 9, PSNC got another request from Fulcher Electric to locate lines at Tryon and Kildaire Farm roads. Utilities have 48 hours to make the markings or refresh them, but the contractor began drilling and ruptured the line a day after submitting its follow-up request, the report said.

The findings also contradicted statements made to investigators by Fulcher Electric owner Ray Fulcher, who said the gas line wasn't marked properly. "Mr. Fulcher stated that he believed the PSNC locators were inexperienced and overworked," the report said.

Fulcher's son Brian was the chief of the drilling crew that ruptured the gas line, the report said.

Cary spokeswoman Susan Moran said town officials would review the Utilities Commission report Friday morning and compare it to their preliminary findings. They also plan to review the contract they had with the contractor, she said.


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  • They call me CATMAN Dec 28, 2007

    soldier_medic if you don't understand english and someone tells you to avoid the yellow line well you know the rest BOOM.

  • TheAdmiral Dec 28, 2007

    I can only say if the City of Cary said to drill here....

    .... who's responsible?

  • Humungous Dec 28, 2007

    srallen17 I believe a yellow line is the same color in English or Spanish.

  • wife-of-a-concrete-man Dec 28, 2007

    "Ouch, I hope they have a big insurance policy or they are likely out of business..."

    the chances that Fulcher Electric is "out of business" is none to zero. I do agree they should take responsibility, and knowing Kenny Fulcher, I am certain he and his company will. Fulcher Electric is a reputable company with many years of experience.

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy Dec 28, 2007

    "New Findings" give me a break.....it's more like someone made up a different story that covers thier rear! It's always easiest to point the finger at someone else.

  • Humungous Dec 28, 2007

    Steve Crisp - It's ALWAYS an idiot with a backhoe.

    If you review the article, in this instance, the hole was bored (drilled) with an auger.

  • emtp2k Dec 28, 2007

    Cary has a long history of allowing contractors to cut power lines, dig up telephone lines, and cut gas lines and numerous other utilities without any recourse. Town engineers have been called on similar problems like this before and even though in this instance the lines were marked, many times the town doesn't require them to mark utilities. When they widened west chatham street someone cut the utilities almost every day along that stretch and even though the project went for over a year the down didn't take action against the contractors for the numerous cuts. Their reasoning? If we charge them for the errors they will in turn charge us more. So who is the loser in all of this? The citizens, who are inconvenienced and sometimes without water, electricity, or gas for many hours and sometimes days.

  • lizard Dec 27, 2007

    I still can't believe that the drill operator pulled up, saw the yellow marks, and said "Oh, I don't believe them. I'll drill here." He almost cremated himself.

  • They call me CATMAN Dec 27, 2007

    was everyone on the Fulcher Electric crew able understand the meaning of a yellow line. ( Were they able to understand english) is what I am trying to say.

  • ghimmy47 Dec 27, 2007

    Fulcher Electric is a good company. I've watched their work many times in difficult conditions. No backhoe is involved. A small diameter tunnel is bored. All contractors of this kind are licensed, bonded and insured. One thing never addressed in any of these articles is the depth of the gas line. The boring depth is controllable but mistakes happen. Usually the contractor will hand dig to locate the precise depth and size of a gas line before starting.