Natural gas explosions can be deadly, or cause catastrophic injuries. Fortunately, they don’t happen frequently, but when they do, the results are often devastating. The affected home can be blown off its foundation. Normally neighboring homes are spared with the exception of windows which are usually shattered as a result of the blast. Neighbors will often say that they thought a bomb exploded in the neighborhood.
The cause of the natural gas explosion can be leaking gas from an appliance or gas line in or around the home. The leaking gas will usually accumulate closest to the ground as the gas is “heavier than air.” A source of ignition is most often closest to the floor as well. The pilot lights on appliances such as water heaters are a common source. Many times, the occupants of the home never smell the gas prior to the explosion. The reason for this is that the odor typically associated with natural gas is actually added to the gas by the gas provider. The odors are usually called mercaptans and when gas escapes, the odor can be “scrubbed” out of the gas so that when the gas is pooling prior to exploding, the gas is odorless. Natural gas can also experience “odor fade” where the mercaptans are reduced leaving the gas odorless. Once the gas has accumulated in an amount that nears an ignition source, the explosion follows immediately. The amount of pooling gas determines the amount of devastation of the explosion.
To the untrained eye, the explosion may seem “unexplainable” or even “suspicious.” In reality, finding the source of the leak and source of ignition explains the devastating nature of this event. Many times the occupants of the home are killed or injured to the point where obtaining interviews of the occupants is impossible. The evidence of the source of the leak may exist in the debris, or may exist underground or elsewhere. It is important to secure experienced representation in these matters so that blame for the blast is not wrongly cast upon the occupants of the home.