Gas Explosion: Springfield Recovers as State Investigation Begins

State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said human error is to blame for the massive gas explosion in Springfield which injured 21 people, damaged three dozen buildings and leveled a night club.

The explosion at Scores Gentlemen’s Club on Worthington Street ignited Friday after Columbia Gas of Massachusetts sent crews to investigate a report of a gas odor. One worker accidentally punctured a gas line at the foundation of the building with a metal probing tool. The company said there were older gas line markings on the nearby sidewalk which were incorrect.

State and local officials held a press conference Sunday and announced Columbia Gas had performed a block-by-block investigation of the area and determined the city’s gas systems are now safe and functioning.

Coan said they have determined the source of the fuel and activities which led to the gas explosion. He said the state Department of Public Utilities will continue the investigation into Columbia Gas related to their response to the incident.

Coan said investigators have not determined the source of the initial odor and may not be able to now that the building is no longer standing. But he said there was no leak of gas from the main in the street.

“We have determined that human error, as opposed to a fault in the gas infrastructure, is what the cause of the explosion was,” he said.

He also said there were too many possible ignition sources inside the multi-story building to identify what had triggered the gas explosion.

Those sent to the hospital include 12 of the 14 Springfield firefighters who initially responded. All have been released. News reports say others injured include gas workers, a water and sewer worker and a local TV cameraman.

Today, residents and business owners gathered at Springfield City Hall carrying lists of lost personal belongings and damaged property. Columbia Gas has promised to cover the expenses, city officials say.

Springfield explosion cause: ‘Human error,’ Massachusetts fire marshal says, The Republican.

Raw Video: Springfield Gas Explosion, The Boston Globe.
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