Chicago: Broken connector caused blast : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Isn't it interesting that when it is a broken connector, the gas industry is hot to get the story out and the media complies. When its a gas industry pipeline problem, the cas remains under investigation forever and the results are seldom widely reported...

Broken connector caused blast

February 29, 2000


An equipment fracture created a gas leak that caused the explosion that leveled a Southwest Side home Sunday, according to the Chicago Fire Department.

"There was a leak in the line, the flexible line coming to the gas cooking stove," said Fire Department spokesman Bill Norris. "That natural gas leak was ignited and that's what caused the explosion and ensuing fire."

A fracture was found in the uncoated brass flexible connector, which links the stove to the gas line, said Peoples Energy Vice President Desiree Rogers. The connector is made of tubing that resembles a gooseneck lamp.

Fire investigators "actually did see an opening" in the connector, Rogers said. "If there's a fracture in that, then you've got gas escaping."

The blast destroyed a home at 5214 S. McVicker belonging to Peter Honcharevich, 85, and his wife Anne, 79. He was in critical condition and she was in "very critical condition" Monday at Loyola University Medical Center. She had burns on 84 percent of her body, said hospital spokesman Michael Maggio.

If air becomes composed of as little as 5 percent natural gas, an explosion can be set off by friction as slight as a key turning in a lock or a light being switched on, or the mere presence of a pilot light, Rogers said.

"It's a perfect environment for there to be an explosion," Rogers said. Two other adjacent severely damaged homes probably will have to be demolished, according to the city Building Department.

Investigators from the Fire Department's Office of Fire Investigation, the Police Bomb and Arson unit and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are not sure what ignited the blast, Norris said.

Consumers concerned about whether their homes contain outmoded uncoated brass flexible connectors should have an inspection by a private heating, venting, air conditioning or plumbing contractor, Rogers said. Newer connectors need to be replaced every 10 years.

Even if your appliances are new, "That doesn't mean that . . . you don't have an outmoded connector," Rogers said.

Customers can also schedule an inspection by calling Peoples Energy at (312) 240-7000. The utility charges $12 for testing and $32 for each connector replaced, said spokesman Luis Diaz-Perez.

The injured couple's children, Gregory Honcharevich and Carol Hager, announced Monday through Maggio that a foundation for blast victims is being established at LaSalle Bank, 6331 S. Archer, Chicago 60638. The McVicker Avenue Foundation will assist the Honcharevich family and others who suffered damage or injury from the explosion, Maggio said. Three other neighbors were slightly injured, but were treated and released.

-- Carl Jenkins (, February 29, 2000



What you say is true, but you have to understand that time does tend to heal the memory of catastrophe. When a pipeline leaks without the presence of construction equipment in the area as a cause, the owner pretty much can figure he is going to end up paying no matter what the cause. Later is cheaper, for him.

One thing I keep in mind when seeing an explosion involving a residence is the gas is low pressure on the user's side of the meter.

Random explosions, residential, aren't significant. If they were occurring almost as frequently as airliner emergency landings, then you would think about finding some common denominator between the events, like the defective hot water heater gas valves back in '78 or some other appliance control problem.

My heart goes out to the people and their families that are injured because of these mechanical failures. However, these dont appear to be the result of process control or control systems.

-- Tom Beckner (, February 29, 2000.

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