Source of House Explosion Confirmed

Fire officials have confirmed the source of a weekend house explosion.

Fire officials confirmed Monday that gas was the source of an early morning house explosion Sunday.

"It has been confirmed to be a gas explosion and the cause is not determined yet," said Fire Chief James Fortin.

The exact cause of the explosion that left one person injured is still being investigated by the State Fire Marshal's Office, he said. Details on the condition of the victim were not available.

"The person that was involved, the victim, is still at UMass with an unknown condition," said Chief Fortin.

At 1:04 a.m. on Sunday morning, multiple 911 calls were received alerting the Marlborough Fire Department to a house explosion at 15 Grant Ct. Neighbors reported feeling the explosion which left the house's walls blown out and the structure on fire.

Fire crews left the area at 4:37 a.m.

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Paul Bishop October 30, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Gas (be it propane or natural gas) can ignite without an external flame or spark source, particularly when there has been a significant leak (as was the case). Static from the escaping gas can do it, but any spark or flame is plenty. A pilot light in a water heater or furnace, a spark inside a lightswitch as it turns on- that is all that is needed as an ignition source. Once a fuel/air detonation like this begins, the dynamics of the explosion are incredible to say the least. Remember the Iraq war "shock and awe" campaign and the "mother of all bombs", or the tunnel-destroying missiles used in the Afghan mountains- both of those weapons are based upon the same effect that blew this home up. A fuel vapor detonation is incredibly powerful and eminently lethal. Unfortunately, I know more about this subject than most firefighters.. and am making efforts to prevent this type of thing from ever happening again. Though disabled these days, I remain an engineer at heart, and have been working on designs for a failsafe valve system which would prevent this type of event. It is my dream to implement this system and have it be made mandatory in all residential gas installations. A fifty dollar failsafe valve would have saved this house-- and saved the victim from the flash burns, concussion injuries, and internal bleeding which result from being close to detonation center. I know this nightmare too well, it haunts me- and I would like to make this monster a thing of the past.
Lisa Pannesi October 30, 2012 at 10:14 PM
I am one of the neighbors and I over heard the man from the house as they were putting him in the ambulance that he was trying to light the pilot so from what I understood he lit the match. And I'm sorry and my heart goes out to you for your disability . I have gas heat and stove and it scares me everyday thinking it could happen to me. I would feel safer if there was something in place to stop it. After seeing and feeling his house blow up being right around the corner I'm even more scared if there is anything I can so to help please let me know
Paul Bishop October 31, 2012 at 01:50 AM
To be honest, the design (to me) is common sense. MQ4 sensors, which detect flammable gases, can now be gotten for under five dollars. I am currently looking at pressure transducers to monitor line pressure. A simple microcontroller costing around ten dollars, and a gas valve which requires positive action (meaning the valve shuts off automatically if power is lost). If a drastic pressure drop is detected (broken line), gas in the air, or power failure, the gas is cut off automatically.
corie vazquez October 31, 2012 at 03:46 PM
VinyHater February 06, 2013 at 01:50 PM
I haven't lived in a house with a gas stove since I was a kid. i recently tried to use a pilotless gas burner in a relative's house; after a few minutes I noticed that the pan was not getting hot and the flame had gone out, so I turned off the gas. The way this thing was designed, to get from HIGH to OFF, you had to turn the knob through the IGNITION position; there was no other way to turn off the burner. When I did, there was a big puff!, nothing damaging, but it gave me a bit of a jolt. Imagine if someone did the same thing after the pan had been sitting (supposedly simmering) for 20 minutes, the puff would have been a lot bigger. I'll keep my electric range (which I never use anyway), gas is good for cheap heat, but I don't want it running any appliances.
Paul Bishop February 06, 2013 at 02:18 PM
Look for a blogpost and video coming from me within the next few days. It is time to make these explosions a thing of the past.


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