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´It looked like Armageddon.´
Homes burn in Massachusetts towns
after suspected gas explosions

CNN, by Nicole Chavez

Original Article

Posted By:Tianne, 9/14/2018 6:02:10 AM

Homes in three towns north of Boston went up in flames on Thursday, consumed by more than 60 suspected gas fires. One house exploded, sending the chimney flying. It crashed into a nearby car, fatally wounding a teenager who was inside. Leonel Rondon, 18, and two of his friends were in the car when the debris struck, his family told CNN affiliate WHDH. He later died in the hospital, authorities said. In Lawrence, Massachusetts, a boiler inside Ra Nam´s house caught fire, he told CNN affiliate WCVB. Minutes later, he said he heard a loud booming sound from his neighbor´s house. Three


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Reply 1 - Posted by: strike3, 9/14/2018 7:14:53 AM     (No. 11757732)

The only reason I can think of is a large, unexpected increase in pressure that blew out weak pipes. They didn´t say how old the infrastructure was but this many leaks would not occur under normal circumstances.

"Schools will be closed Friday in Lawrence and Andove. All state offices in all three towns will be also closed, and nonemergency employees have been asked to stay home."

The event was not funny but the above released statement certainly is.

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Reply 2 - Posted by: chabis, 9/14/2018 9:43:20 AM     (No. 11757925)

Thank you for that "increase in pressure" explanation, poster #1. I´d heard about these fires and could think of no likely reason. Yours makes sense.

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Reply 3 - Posted by: Pete Stone, 9/14/2018 12:17:38 PM     (No. 11758201)

The utility was in the middle of an upgrade to the distribution system. The most obvious explanation would be that the local control station, which was supposed to step the pressure down from 60 pounds per square inch to .25 PSI, malfunctioned. That could blow out some gas pipes, especially in old houses. If it didn´t do that, it could still "turn pilot lights into blowtorches," in the words of Bob Ackley, the president of an organization called Gas Safety USA, who was quoted by Fox News.
I dunno -- I´m glad I have LPG, not piped natural gas, in my house.

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Reply 4 - Posted by: dvc, 9/14/2018 12:47:19 PM     (No. 11758250)

Gas in main pipelines can run up to 1500 pounds per square inch pressure. In the home, the feed pressure is 1/2 a pound per square inch.

Local distribution lines run from 300 to 60, depending on a lot of factors. If a regulator, a mechnical device which drops the pressure from the high level to the low level, fails internally, or is damaged (often by digging), it can pass through the full high pressure.

Lines are generally strong enough, physically, when new, but as they age, and perhaps corrode, they will be fine at 0.5 psi, but blow out at 200 or 300 psi. And, pilot lights will flare out a huge flame, and often pilot light piping it small aluminum and may not survive the pressures.

So, no matter what the particular individual failures, putting far, far higher pressure than intended on consumer appliances will cause serious, dangerous, flaming malfunctions of many kinds.

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