Twelve people were injured and six were being treated for critical or serious injuries at a Fresno, California, hospital over the weekend after a PG&E Corp. natural gas pipeline ruptured and ignited a fire.
A section of highway was shut down after the explosion, according to the Fresno County Sheriff's Office. Some of the injured were inmates from the Fresno County Jail.
The blast erupted after a backhoe struck a 12 in. gas line.
PG&E has urged anyone doing digging projects to call 811 at least two working days in advance so that utility lines can be marked to allow for safe digging.
Workers not affiliated with PG&E apparently struck the natural gas transmission pipeline; no call had been placed to 811.
PG&E said in a statement: “Our primary concern is always the safety of the public and our employees. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been injured. As we continue to investigate this incident, we remind all of our customers of the importance of calling 811 before they do any type of digging project. Digging into gas pipelines can have serious safety consequences.”
PG&E responded quickly after the pipeline was struck. PG&E detected a slight change in pressure at 2:29 pm, and was first notified about the incident at 2:36 pm. Actions to shut off gas began before 3 pm, and the flow of gas to the pipeline was shut at 3:20 pm. Because of the remaining gas in the line, the flames were exhausted at 3:56 pm.
Edited from various sources by Elizabeth Corner
Sources: Wall Street Journal, USA Today