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Thread: Warrant: Contractor mismarked gas line before deadly blast

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    Senior Member UULC's Avatar
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    Default Warrant: Contractor mismarked gas line before deadly blast

    MADISON, Wis. - A utility-location worker failed to properly mark a natural gas line in a Madison suburb this summer, leading to an explosion that levelled more than half a dozen buildings and killed a firefighter, according to court documents.

    A search warrant request recently unsealed in Dane County Circuit Court states investigators are looking for evidence that would support a homicide charge in Sun Prairie firefighter Cory Barr's death.

    The explosion occurred July 10 after a subcontractor installing fiber communication lines in a downtown Sun Prairie intersection struck a gas main. One of the diggers called 911 to report he could smell gas in the air.

    Firefighters and police rushed to the intersection and evacuated dozens of people before the gas ignited, sending a towering fireball into the night sky that burned for hours, casting the downtown in a hellish orange light. Six businesses and a home were destroyed. Barr was killed in the blast and several other emergency workers were hurt.

    Investigators filed the search warrant request July 19 and asked that a judge seal it to keep their progress a secret, stating that they're looking for evidence that would bolster a second-degree reckless homicide charge. Judge Shelley Gaylord agreed to seal the documents until Oct. 17.

    An affidavit accompanying the warrant request states that an employee with Indiana-based USIC, a company that specializes in protecting utility infrastructure during excavations, failed to correctly mark the gas line in the street and instead targeted a spot beneath a sidewalk 25 feet (7.5 metres) away.

    The company refused to identify the worker short of a court order. Investigators learned his identity after one of the workers who ruptured the line overhead the worker's first name while a supervisor was speaking to him on the phone on the day of the explosion.

    Police approached the worker six days after the blast but he refused to speak to them. Investigators received a letter from his attorney two days later saying he won't be speaking to law enforcement. The affidavit didn't name the attorney.

    USIC attorney Traci Martinez and the worker didn't immediately return voicemail messages from The Associated Press on Thursday morning. Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne also didn't immediately return a message.

    Police in Sun Prairie issued a statement Thursday saying the search warrant is one component of an ongoing investigation and isn't conclusive.

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    Senior Member yahoo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warrant: Contractor mismarked gas line before deadly blast

    a locator that marks UG utilities is one part of a problem. There's usually another part of a problem right before an explosion happens . my question is first what and how started the fire ??
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

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    Default Re: Warrant: Contractor mismarked gas line before deadly blast

    Quote Originally Posted by yahoo View Post
    a locator that marks UG utilities is one part of a problem. There's usually another part of a problem right before an explosion happens . my question is first what and how started the fire ??
    I am sure they are looking for that. Any ignition point from an vehicle ignition system to someone smoking near the dig site. Never have lit tobacco product near a dig.

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    Default Re: Warrant: Contractor mismarked gas line before deadly blast

    Quote Originally Posted by ProfessionalLocator View Post
    I am sure they are looking for that. Any ignition point from an vehicle ignition system to someone smoking near the dig site. Never have lit tobacco product near a dig.
    I believe it migrated into one of the buildings and found an ignition source. One of the building was leveled

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    Default Re: Warrant: Contractor mismarked gas line before deadly blast

    Gas is the most deadly public utility by far to mark. Mistakes can cost lives. If they criminalize those mistakes then none of us should even consider marking gas anymore.

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    Default Re: Warrant: Contractor mismarked gas line before deadly blast

    Quote Originally Posted by daman1 View Post
    Gas is the most deadly public utility by far to mark. Mistakes can cost lives. If they criminalize those mistakes then none of us should even consider marking gas anymore.
    Mistakes are not criminalized. But indifference to the point of not performing the job safely is. Always been this way.

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    Default Re: Warrant: Contractor mismarked gas line before deadly blast

    Quote Originally Posted by ProfessionalLocator View Post
    Mistakes are not criminalized. But indifference to the point of not performing the job safely is. Always been this way.

    Yes. Keep a close eye on this one. Its a fine line to define.

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    Default Re: Warrant: Contractor mismarked gas line before deadly blast

    Quote Originally Posted by ProfessionalLocator View Post
    Mistakes are not criminalized. But indifference to the point of not performing the job safely is. Always been this way.
    the radio stations were all over this. They were like the prints showed the main in the road way and this guy marked the sidewalk. If not busy I would of called up the station. Some guy got on the radio and said he told the hr department 3 years ago something like this would happen. blasted usic on it's training of these guys
    daman1 likes this.

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    Senior Member yahoo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warrant: Contractor mismarked gas line before deadly blast

    Quote Originally Posted by daman1 View Post
    Gas is the most deadly public utility by far to mark. Mistakes can cost lives. If they criminalize those mistakes then none of us should even consider marking gas anymore.
    hopefully , it will never come to this ......all people on any type of job in the world make minor mistakes of all kinds ....
    daman1 likes this.
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

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    Default Re: Warrant: Contractor mismarked gas line before deadly blast

    Quote Originally Posted by yahoo View Post
    hopefully , it will never come to this ......all people on any type of job in the world make minor mistakes of all kinds ....
    Unfortunately with the race to install latest technology and the fastest internet speeds, fiber optic upgrades will expand even farther and faster than we can put paint on the ground!
    yahoo likes this.

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    Default Re: Warrant: Contractor mismarked gas line before deadly blast

    Quote Originally Posted by JonCrosby View Post
    Unfortunately with the race to install latest technology and the fastest internet speeds, fiber optic upgrades will expand even farther and faster than we can put paint on the ground!
    As new technology develops people who don't know our work try to implement it. One idea is EMS (Electronic Marker System) markers replace locators. These ball type markers would be placed in the trench with the utility. Advanced versions of this were programmable markers where the exact GPS readins would be recrded into the ball marker. That plus GPS records would make locators unessasry and contracors could work off records and their own equipment

    My pointing out their errors was NOT welcome. Off the cuff there were many problems.

    One is that the marked need be attached to the utility because the utility could be on one side of the trench and the marker end up on the other side of the trench. They thought that being off 16 inches would not matter. I pointed out that while 16 inches was common backhoe bucket width that 24 inch width buckets were also often used so being off by 2 feet was possible.

    That these markers need placement roughly every 6 to 12 feet. Because the only way to mark between EMS markers is to straight line between points. Two problems, 1) The utility could wander from one side of the trench to the other so frequent placement was needed. 2) That utilities are PLANNED in a straight line. Installers weave around obstacles like boulders or piles of construction material.

    That this would not work with utilities installed by direction bore.

    That as utilities are dug up these markers may not go back into the same place. That these ball markers roll and during installation crews lose a few and they get buried by grading crews resulting in false reading.

    That every excavator from homeowner or small landscaper to heavy construction companies would need expensive equipment and know enough to use it.

    The proponents of doing this were officials of the Virginia Public Service Commission and officials of several utility companies. Even after making my points they insisted what they planned was the future. Reminds me of the M16 when it was first put into service. Some of these guns were given to the Marines to evaluate and they returned a long list of shortcomings and faults. The Marines evaluation was rejected because the M16 was adopted by McNamara's “whiz kids”. Their thinking as the gun was designed by an engineer, background aircraft production and development. The designer was college educated like those “whiz kids” and the Marines were not so the college people had to be right. Those early M16 jammed and of little use.

    Those who have marked long enough will remember early FO cables. The engineers were excited that they had new cables that did not require any metal in it's construction. Then had to face the realization that had put many miles of expensive cable in the ground that would not carry a signal on a conductor. Not thinking of this these early cables were installed with no tracer wire.
    yahoo likes this.

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    Default Re: Warrant: Contractor mismarked gas line before deadly blast

    right now in the county I work in has several crews putting putting in fiber for Verizon from (I believe that was the project that caused the explosion)cell tower to cell tower I think. Also just had TDS come through the whole town. Have TDS is 12 pocket areas doing subdivisions areas 8 drills. Usic is so behind a drill crew company with 4 crews left because they were here two days and no usic marks. I have been pulled off regular tickets and been trying to keep a head of 3 crews upgrading AT&T copper to fiber in a subdivision. We have a project crews but they are in other towns doing the TDS installs.

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    Default Re: Warrant: Contractor mismarked gas line before deadly blast

    it will get worse before it gets better ......
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

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    Default Re: Warrant: Contractor mismarked gas line before deadly blast

    They might be approaching this as a negligence issue but until they get out there and locate lines themselves, they won't understand how it may have been mismarked.
    yahoo and daman1 like this.
    "Change does not always equal progress."

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    Default Re: Warrant: Contractor mismarked gas line before deadly blast

    Quote Originally Posted by TheCableVine View Post
    They might be approaching this as a negligence issue but until they get out there and locate lines themselves, they won't understand how it may have been mismĺarked.
    There is a fine line between overloaded and cant possibly do it all and indifference. We've all been there. It's the Kobayashi Maru of the locate world.
    TheCableVine likes this.

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