Puget Sound Energy is at fault in a gas leak explosion in Seattle’s Pinehurst neighborhood that burned a couple and destroyed their house, according to a report released today by Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission safety engineers.
As many experts had previously concluded, the report says a powerful jolt of stray electricity from a downed powerline punctured holes into a gas line near the home. Gas from the leak had filled the home when a flipped light switch triggered the explosion.
Although PSE promptly responded to odor and leak reports in the neighborhood after the powerlines went down, the report says it violated gas-safety rules by not doing a leak survey of all gas lines and the gas main in the area. That area included the Pinehurst home that went up in flames.
The report, put together by a WSUTC staff that monitors 12,000 miles of PSE’s gas pipelines, recommends that PSE be fined for that violation. The state agency’s three-member commission would still have to approve of that fine.
The report also cleared up how the electrical current reached the gas line. It says the downed power line emitted a powerful jolt of stray electricity that energized a metal fence post and abandoned, buried metal-water pipe before it charged PSE’s gas pipeline.