Gas explosion in Durham North Carolina

Thankfully only 1 person killed, but many injuries. Lot of damage to surrounding buildings.

Is this one of those things where the contractor supposed to call the utility company to come out and mark the locations of underground gas/electric lines before any digging started, but they skipped that step? Or did the utility company mark the wrong location for the gas line (or not mark it all)?

I suspect the above won’t be known for some time, but what’s usually the case when something like this happens? Who gets the Finger of Scorn?

This hits very close to home. Two weeks ago, we had a trucker in Camden AR killed when his brakes caught the tires on fire. His load of ammonium nitrate exploded. Leaving a huge crater in the highway and flattening trees in a wide area.

Ammonium nitrate is what the Oklahoma City bomber used in to take down the Alfred P Murrah Federal building in 1995. Killing 168 and wounding 680 others. Ammonium nitrate can be a extremely powerful explosive.

Probably so. Call before you dig is a nationwide program. I bought two trees from a nursery and they wouldn’t plant them until Call before you dig marked the buried utilities on the property. They used different color spray paints for gas, electric,and water.

These trees were in 15 gal pots. Not a big hole, but still required call before you dig.

Holy crap. I cant imagine what that sounded and felt like.
Any Doper’s in the area?

Well shit - that’s right by Brightleaf Square, which is a nice collection of shops and restaurants. There’s also some fairly expensive new apartments and condos there, along with some Duke University offices. My hairdresser is about a block away.

From the article:

Sad for the loss of life, and not intending to disrespect the memory of a guy who sacrificed himself to protect others - but it was hard to keep from snickering when reading that quote directly below the photo of that gigantic smoking crater.

If you contact any utility companies for the location of their substructures, you will be referred to “USA 1-800” which is indeed the “call before you dig” catchphrase. USA in this instance stands for “Underground Service Alert.”

And yes, they are the ones with the pretty, color-coded spraypaints.

This is the building that blew up.

7 miles, as the crow flies. I didn’t hear or feel anything, but someone who was in my office had a friend in the area, and got a pic texted to her phone. Rubble covering the sidewalk and a column of thick black smoke.
While unlikely, I hope nobody I know was terribly affected. But seeing how the community is coming together warms my heart.

I’d call ahead before making shopping & restaurant plans. It’ll take a few days? Maybe a week?, to replace all the store front glass and clean up the businesses.

There’s also a non-descript building there that houses a rather impressive Porsche collection. No word on what, if any, damage that suffered. Also sounds like the burn unit at UNC is going to be busy. :frowning:

There aren’t many details yet, but the most likely scenario is that the contractor was directionally boring when they hit the gas facility. The facility was likely located by the utility. The contractor is required to open a spot hole where the bore head will cross the facility to ensure it doesn’t come into contract with it. They likely skipped this step and assumed they were above or below it. Locates do not include depth and most locating equipment is not that accurate in terms of depth. When the gas line was struck, the gas likely migrated into the building via a sewer line or some other conduit. This is the case in the vast majority of these incidents. It is 99% that the contractor is at fault. Even if the utility failed to locate their facilities in the mandated timeframe, contractors are required to postpone excavation until the facilities are located or an all clear is given.

Mapping of underground utilities can be, um, vague. I’ve seen all types of ways to locate underground lines, including welding rods used like divining rods.

The car museum was at least damaged. Here is a picture of the collapsed roof.

Apparently the death toll is now 2 persons.

You probably can.

Remember that boom-y thing that put your cat on the ceiling a couple of weeks ago? Like that.

I was wondering if that red thing in the pic might be a car.

Which one? the one with the sign giving the address as 111 North Duke St, or the one (ironically, as it turns out) labeled “Prescient”?


Here’s what Prescient looks like now (screencap from video). 111 N. Duke got some damage too.