O'FALLON, Mo. — A house in O'Fallon, Missouri, exploded Tuesday.
The family inside escaped before the explosion happened before noon on Millers Court. They said they smelled gas and exited the home.
No one was injured in the explosion.
A photo of the home shows a bare foundation where the home's walls and roof once stood. The home is a total loss. The explosion destroyed the home and a resulting fire leveled what was left of the structure.
The explosion happened after a contractor was digging across the street and struck a Spire gas line. Spire and the fire department were alerted to the leak, a spokesperson for Spire told 5 On Your Side.
Neighboring houses were damaged by the explosion. Smoke was seen for miles from the home. Traffic to the neighborhood is restricted while crews clean up.
Nineteen Spire customers were left without service. Service was expected to be restored by early evening.
The City of O’Fallon said this is the second time a company called Gateway Fiber has hit a gas line in the past two weeks. Now the city is suspending all of the company's work permits.
"Prior to restarting any work, the company will be required to submit documentation showing what happened in these incidents and what changes are being made to ensure the safety of our residents,” city leaders said in a post on Facebook.
Tuesday, a representative from Gateway Fiber said the company is cooperating with authorities who are investigating.
Heath Sellenriek, the president of Gateway Fiber provided the following statement:
“At Gateway Fiber, nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of the communities we serve, our customers, and employees. As a local company committed to improving our neighborhoods, we share the concern over yesterday’s incident in O’Fallon, Missouri.
A preliminary assessment has found that while drilling for a new underground fiber line at a residential home, a subcontractor working on one of our job sites inadvertently struck a natural gas line. The subcontractor immediately stopped their work and contacted Spire Energy which arrived quickly and evacuated the home. During Spire’s attempt to repair the natural gas line, an explosion occurred which affected the entire home and at least one nearby structure. Thankfully, no one was injured.
The subcontractor conducting this work has been terminated.
We are actively cooperating with the local investigating authorities and focusing on how we can help the affected families and community. We look forward to the results of this investigation.”
What to do if you smell gas
Spire says to take these steps if you smell natural gas.
- Immediately leave the building and head to a location where no smell of gas can be detected. Until you've reached a safe distance, avoid smoking and using electronics like garage door openers or alarm systems, and don't turn on or off any lights. Most importantly, stay away from the area of the smell and keep others away as well.
- Once you're at a safe location, call Spire's 24/7 emergency line right away or call 911. In eastern Missouri, the number is 800-887-4173. In western Missouri, the number is 800-582-1234.
- If you don't own the office or residence, it's a good idea to notify the property owner or manager in case repairs need to be made inside.
- Steer clear of the area until you’re told it’s safe by a gas safety professional (Spire employee, police, fireman or other first responder on scene).
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