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OSHA, Missouri Public Service Commission investigating O'Fallon house explosion

Residents in the subdivision worry about what the future will be like for their properties.

O'FALLON, Mo. — The Missouri Public Service Commission and OSHA have opened an investigation into a gas explosion that destroyed a home completely and damaged several others in O’Fallon.

No one was injured but the incident left several houses in the Millers Court subdivision condemned and others with considerable damage.

Dee Daviess, who lives down the street could still remember the rumble that shook her home and her street Tuesday.

The main home in pieces went into flames after a contractor digging across the street hit a gas line.

"It was really awful. We [Daviess hand her husband] both jumped out of our chairs pretty quick and ran out the door," Daviess said.

Daviess was thankful she did not have much damage inside her home.

“A lot of us around here are concerned about the structural damage and so we'll probably have that checked out,” she added.

Richard Inman with Inman and Associates went door to door Thursday talking to residents like Daviess about the damage.

His public adjusting company is an insurance adjuster that represents the interest of the insured.

Residents can go to them after they get their estimates back from their insurance companies.

"I've been telling people that I've met is what they should do to mark the damages at least for now. Then they'll see as that changes as once the houses start settling back in position"

Meanwhile, investigators have still worked to learn what led to the explosion.

Gateway Fiber said in a statement it was digging when a contractor hit a gas line and that the explosion happened while a worker from Spire was trying to repair it.

Read the full statement here:

“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.”

Heath Sellenriek, President, Gateway Fiber

Spire in return said the agency took immediate action and worked with the O'Fallon Fire Department to evacuate nearby homes and stop the leak.

They clarified "Our work to stop the leak did not cause the incident that damaged homes in the subdivision."

Read their response here:

At Spire, safety is a core value and Tuesday’s incident reinforces the importance of safety when digging near natural gas lines.

Tuesday afternoon, a third party excavator hit a gas line in an O’Fallon, MO subdivision. Once notified, we took immediate action and worked with the O’Fallon Fire Department to evacuate nearby homes and stop the leak. Our work to stop the leak did not cause the incident that damaged homes in the subdivision.

Our crews stopped the leak, repaired the damage to our facilities and restored service to unaffected homes. Fortunately, no one was injured and we thank the fire department for their professionalism and hard work that saved lives.

The leading cause of damage to natural gas lines is digging by excavators. We want to emphasize the four steps for safe digging:

Step 1: Make the call. Dial 811 to request that your project area be marked. The call and the locating services are free.

Step 2: Pause. You should call at least three days before you plan to dig. A locator will come by and mark the pipelines that could be impacted by your project. That way, you know when to be careful and everyone stays safe.

Step 3: Follow the marks. Spire lines will be marked with yellow flags and/or spray paint. If the marks fade before you begin your project, simply dial 811 again to have them remarked.

Step 4: Dig with care. Be careful when digging around the markers to avoid accidentally damaging buried lines.

Even a small gouge, scrape, dent or crease can cause a future rupture or leak. The only way to make sure that pipeline is safe for use is to have an expert at Spire repair the damage. And if you smell gas, leave the area immediately and call 911.

Gateway Fiber has fired the contractor who hit the line.

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