Thursday, December 22, 2016

Gas explosion and fire levels a Domino's store in Ohio after construction crew damages a high-pressure gas line

The Columbus Dispatch • Thursday December 22, 2016 4:46 AM
Tom Dodge | Dispatch Firefighters battle a gas line blast on the city's West Side.

Jeffrey Blackburn smelled the gas inside the Domino's restaurant and went outside to check. He saw workers scampering away and “a big bulge and a crack” growing in the asphalt parking lot.

“The gas was just spraying out,” said Blackburn, a driver for the Domino's in the small shopping center at West Broad Street and South Hague Avenue. He piled his coworkers in his car and sped off.

Less than two minutes later, there were two explosions.

The pizza shop exploded, and flames fueled by the leaking gas continued to shoot 30 or more feet in the air from the shop and the hole in the parking lot for two more hours, witnesses said.

Columbus Fire Battalion Chief Steve Martin said a Fishel construction crew was using a boring machine to lay conduit underneath West Broad when a bit struck a high-pressure line.

The construction crew, which was boring from the north to the south side of West Broad, had consulted with authorities about the location of gas lines and was permitted to dig in the area, according to Columbia Gas of Ohio.

A worker told a 911 dispatcher that the crew had hit a “main” and that gas was leaking upward. Columbia Gas later determined it was a 6-inch distribution line on West Broad.

“It’s just blowing pretty good, and it’s close to a building,” he said in the call.

Later, another caller yelled “Domino’s has blown up!” She screamed for joy when told everyone was out of the building. Fire crews had just arrived.

Jerrol Cox was helping clean up after installing gutters on a nearby house when the blast knocked him back a step. “My clothes when ‘whoosh,’“ he said, pulling his jacket out.

Amber Mason was working at the Walgreens across West Broad when a customer came in and told her there was a gas leak across the street.

“Three minutes later, ‘Boom!” Mason said.

Afterward, firefighters using monitoring devices detected gas coming up through the ground and from sewers, prompting police to expand the safe zone, Martin said.

Fire crews were worried that gas was collecting in other buildings, which could have caused another explosion.

By 4:45 p.m., Columbia Gas crews had shut off a valve to the west of the shopping center and pinched off a supply pipe to the east, shutting off gas to the fire. Isolating the shutdown meant surrounding homes and business still had heat, Martin said.

The call on the Domino’s explosion came in about 2:20 p.m., Martin said.

At the Buckeye Ranch building, which provides behavioral health services to children and families, the receptionist got on the intercom and told about 30 people in the building to leave immediately. “We were coming out,” said John Hiller of Buckeye Ranch. “The first explosion came from the Domino’s. We were standing in the parking lot and they moved us to the hardware store, and they had a second explosion.”

Blackburn, the delivery driver, said a security guard was herding people out of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital primary care center and Buckeye Ranch site, which are in the shopping center with the Domino’s.

“He was just telling them to run,” Blackburn said. The security guard worked for Nationwide Children’s.

“That’s huge,” Battalion Chief Martin said of the warning. No one was injured by the blast and fire, Martin said, but one person running away fell and was hurt.

The Domino’s was destroyed along with a storefront that housed a staffing agency that moved in a couple months ago, said Nick Rees, president and chief executive officer for Buckeye Ranch, which owns the shopping center.

While Rees was waiting Wednesday night to look inside, firefighters found minimal damage in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital center, Buckeye Ranch offices and the Postal Service branch. But a Nationwide Children’s mobile clinic was damaged in the parking lot along with a couple of cars.

“Nobody got hurt,” Rees said. “That’s the main thing.”

1 injured after e-cigarette explodes on California bus

A light show ignited on this FAX bus Wednesday afternoon when a 53-year-old man hopped on with a vaporizer in hand. (KFSN)
By Christina Fan
Thursday, December 22, 2016 06:19AM
FRESNO, Calif. -- A light show ignited on this Fresno city bus Wednesday afternoon when a 53-year-old man hopped on with a vaporizer in hand.

After the bus drive gavee the man a warning about smoking on the bus, he put the device in his pocket. During the next two minutes that pass it decides to take a life of its own.

Adam Wooddy, the owner of Satyr Vapor watched as the panicked victim beat the flames as they turned to smoke.

"Those are always so much more violent than anything you'd expect from them."

Across the country, incidents of e-cigarette explosions are being caught on tape; many times severely burning their victims. Wooddy said he believes it's mostly user error.

"Batteries have a wrap around them and if that wrap gets torn it makes the battery very unstable, especially if that battery has dings and dents-- basically a ticking time bomb."

Fresno firefighters said the battery inside this device was scorched to a char-- giving them few clues here about the cause.

The victim claimed he felt the device growing hot-- experts said that is a sign that he may have left his e-cig on in his pocket.

It's also a hazard many of users are guilty of.

"I can hear it while I'm driving, if my purse moves it might turn it on sometimes, so now I know not to do that," said Nathalie Quiros, owns e-cig.

Wooddy said newer e-cig models have safeguards that prevent your device from firing. And to avoid buying the old mechanical models that don't have a lock.

"It has a shutoff. If it fires for 10 seconds straight, it's going to stop firing and the device will turn off."

A simple function that could end up being a lifesaver

The victim suffered minor injuries to his hand and his thigh. He was treated and expected to be okay.

Puerto Rico Land Authority penalized $87K For Damaging Wetlands in Guanica, causing sediment to wash into adjacent waters

EPA Penalizes Puerto Rico Land Authority For Damaging Wetlands in Guanica
Contact Information:
John Martin (

(New York, N.Y. – December 22, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached a legal settlement with the Puerto Rico Land Authority that resolves alleged violations of the Clean Water Act. 

In 2013 and 2014, the Land Authority filled and cleared land and vegetation in wetlands in Guánica, Puerto Rico, causing sediment to wash into adjacent waters, which include the Lajas Channel and the Rio Loco, damaging the wetlands and water quality. Both the Lajas Channel and the Rio Loco flow into Guánica Bay. The Land Authority will pay a $87,000 penalty.

“The Puerto Rico Land Authority has repeatedly ignored federal regulations that protect wetlands," said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. " Wetlands prevent flooding and are an important habitat for birds and wildlife. Wetlands can be thought of as biological supermarkets. They provide great volumes of food that attract many animal species.”

From September 2013 to June 2014, the Puerto Rico Land Authority used excavators and other heavy equipment to dig up and clear wetlands on the Finca Maria Antonia and the Finca Limón properties in the Cienaga Ward in Guánica. The excavation harmed approximately 60 acres of wetlands and indirectly damaged an additional 100 acres. The digging and clearing of land caused soil and sediment to wash into wetlands on the property and into the Loco River, which flows into Guánica Bay. The Land Authority performed this work without approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as required by the Clean Water Act.

The EPA works in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the states and territories to oversee and enforce wetlands regulations. Permit applications for actions which potentially impact wetlands are required by federal law. They are reviewed and issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Protection of Puerto Rico's water and coastal resources is not inherently in conflict with an increased use of the commonwealth’s land for agriculture. Puerto Rico’s year-round growing season, and its ability to reduce fuel consumption by growing agricultural products locally, makes the expansion of the agricultural sector very attractive. With proper planning, collaboration and a commitment to comply with the Clean Water Act, agriculture can be expanded in Puerto Rico in a sustainable manner. That, however, is not what happened in this case.

For more information on EPA’s work to protect wetlands, visit:

Southern Chills Inc., Capri Construction Corp., SB Painting & Waterproofing Inc. and Brothers Carpentry Corp. fined $91K as worker dies after falling through unprotected floor opening

December 21, 2016

OSHA cites 4 Florida contractors as worker dies after falling through
unprotected floor opening; proposes $91K in penalties
Contractors issued repeat, serious safety violations after 33-year-old worker's death

MIAMI - If Southern Chills, a Homestead-based contractor, had not ignored the construction industry's most dangerous hazard, Leonardo Javier Lopez-Montelo might be alive today.

The 33-year-old laborer fell nearly 11 feet through an unprotected stairway opening as he performed punch-list activities at the Kendall Square housing complex construction site in Miami, and suffered fatal injuries.

A U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation of the June 29, 2016, incident found that the stairway opening had no guardrails or cover as required. Lopez-Montelo's employer was aware that the opening was unprotected, investigators also found.

For construction industry workers, falls are the leading cause of work-related death. Four in 10 workers die in preventable falls each year.

As a result of the fatality, OSHA has issued eight citations to Southern Chills Inc., Capri Construction Corp., SB Painting & Waterproofing Inc. and Brothers Carpentry Corp. for safety violations. Combined, the four contractors face $91,536 in penalties.

The project's developer, Lennar Homes LLC contracted with Miami's Capri Construction as the shell contractor at the job site. Capri then contracted with Homestead-based Southern Chills to perform carpentry work such as installing second floor deck, trusses and sheathing. Following the fatality, Capri contracted with Brothers Carpentry, a West Park finish carpentry contractor, to replace Southern Chills and Lennar hired SB Painting, of West Palm Beach, to paint the exteriors and interiors of the homes.

"This was a preventable incident. Capri and Southern Chills failed in their responsibility to protect their employees and chose to ignore the need to install the necessary fall protection system which would have saved Leonardo," said Condell Eastmond, OSHA's area director in Fort Lauderdale.

OSHA issued Southern Chills two repeated citations for failing to protect workers from falls up to 11 feet with a guardrail or personal fall system and not training employees to recognize fall hazards or procedures while working at elevated levels.

OSHA also issued serious citations to Capri, SB Painting and Brothers Carpentry for failing to protect workers from fall hazards with a guardrail or personal fall system. Additionally, the agency cited SB Painting and Brothers for not training workers to recognize fall hazards while working at elevated levels, and cited Capri for exposing workers to fall hazards due to a lack of frequent inspections to ensure hazardous conditions did not exist or were corrected.

The citations for the four companies can be viewed at:

The companies have 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions; obtain compliance assistance; file a complaint or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities, or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Fort Lauderdale Area Office at 954-424-0242.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

# # #