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Fire erupts after contractor hits gas line in Bethel Park

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018, 4:42 a.m.

A construction crew relocating a water line stuck a marked natural gas line in Bethel Park early Wednesday, triggering an explosion and fire that raged more than hour, officials said.

Employees of Golden Triangle Construction of Imperial were moving a Pennsylvania American Water pipe that was out of service along Clifton Road near Library Road and struck a 4-inch minimum pressure gas line about 2 a.m., according to John Kuchma, Bethel Park’s emergency management coordinator.

One employee of Golden Triangle was injured and transported to UPMC Mercy hospital, he said. The worker’s condition was unknown. A spokeswoman for Golden Triangle declined to comment.

Columbia Gas spokeswoman Sarah Barczyk said workers shut the gas off at 4:05 a.m., which extinguished the fire three minutes later. She said the gas line was clearly marked.

“They hit the line, and when they hit the line there was an ignition, and there was a fire,” she said.

Columbia Gas finished repairs to the line by 4 p.m. and were in the process of restoring service for 23 customers on Clifton Road. Clifton Road remained closed as of Wednesday afternoon.

One home was evacuated because of how close it was to the fire. Kuchma said the blaze damaged mulch, shrubbery and a sign for the Timberidge housing complex.

The state Public Utility Commission has investigators from its pipeline safety division and damage prevention committee on-site, spokesman Nils Hagen-Frederiksen said.

“They will be reviewing the incident for issues related to state pipeline safety regulations and PA One Call regulations,” he said.

An Allegheny County fire marshal and representatives of OSHA were looking into the mishap, according to Kuchma.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, or via Twitter @bobbauder.

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