gas lines set 70 houses on fire simultaneously in Massachusetts, live now.

(edited)

Looks like a disaster unfolding just North of Boston.  Huge numbers of house fires apparently as gas lines over-pressure, blow gas past safety systems, and ignite.  Fire crews totally overwhelmed.  Live camera right now.

https://globalnews.ca/news/4447474/massachusetts-gas-explosions-towns-evacuated/?utm_source=Other&utm_medium=MostPopular&utm_campaign=2014

Three towns are hit:  Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover.  All use gas as a heating and cooking fuel source. Crews are trying to shut off the gas lines as we speak.  Governor on the way.

This points to an obvious flaw in the design of these gas distribution systems.  

Edited by Jan van Eck
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The governor seems like a competent guy.  Thoughts?

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50 minutes ago, Dan Warnick said:

The governor seems like a competent guy.  Thoughts?

He is.  Very.

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As sad as this situation is, there was an insightful comment on the link:

"Neglect your infrastructure in the US while declaring endless wars to make the military industrial complex shareholders rich.  What the US should do is declare a war on themselves and try to win their own citizens' hearts and minds by rebuilding their own infrastructure for a change."

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Just now, Epic said:

As sad as this situation is, there was an insightful comment on the link:

"Neglect your infrastructure in the US while declaring endless wars to make the military industrial complex shareholders rich.  What the US should do is declare a war on themselves and try to win their own citizens' hearts and minds by rebuilding their own infrastructure for a change."

Although, this is not exactly a neglected-infrastructure situation.  It has all the earmarks of being a main distribution step-down pressure controller that got stuck, allowing high-pressure gas to flow though the secondary town system.  Presumably that pressure was too great for the final-step valves at the customer homes to handle, causing high-pressure gas to push through the various end openings, such as water heater pilot valves, gas heat controllers, and gas stoves, then filling up the houses with gas, some exploding, others being ignited and starting fires. 

This type of event was (obviously) not anticipated by planners for fire departments.  Who figures on 70 houses catching fire at the same time?  So you have these houses that burn into fully-involved structure fires, and total losses, simply because the equipment is not on site to be able to deal with it.  And what that points to is the necessity of homeowners having outdoor water fixtures with long hoses attached, to go spring into action and attack the fire while it is still in its infancy, before it can start to get a serious foothold. 

That house that was burning had a full swimming pool in back.  If the homeowner had invested in a pump and some 1-1/4 inch fire hose, so he could handle it under pressure, he would have been able to fight that fire.  Then again, not everyone has the skill or the strength to fight fire, it can quickly get out of hand.  

I have no solution, or at least no obvious solution, for such a line over-pressure event.  Gas in the home is quite low pressure, just a few psi.  I have to think that those mains are running at several hundred psi. How you figure out how to make that failure-proof is not obvious. 

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1 hour ago, Jan van Eck said:

I have no solution, or at least no obvious solution, for such a line over-pressure event.

Come on, Jan.  I have to say that we both know what Epic's point was.  And you know that back up, redundant systems work in aircraft for just this type of failure.  And, it was clear from the video feeds that even when the fire department was quickly on the scene it took quite an effort to get the fire under control.  I don't know about low pressure gas into the house making a gas fire easy for a homeowner to deal with, but the firefighters would have been very careful dealing with a gas fire, so I don't see homeowner having the requisite "cajones" to deal with it on their own.  Most people would run from a gas fire, end of story. 

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(edited)

12 hours ago, Dan Warnick said:

Come on, Jan.  I have to say that we both know what Epic's point was.  And you know that back up, redundant systems work in aircraft for just this type of failure.  And, it was clear from the video feeds that even when the fire department was quickly on the scene it took quite an effort to get the fire under control.  I don't know about low pressure gas into the house making a gas fire easy for a homeowner to deal with, but the firefighters would have been very careful dealing with a gas fire, so I don't see homeowner having the requisite "cajones" to deal with it on their own.  Most people would run from a gas fire, end of story. 

Well, all true.  I have to get out of the mindset of my rural corner of the USA.  Here, we are our own fire department and our own police department.  It is not really Cojones Grandes, it is just the way it is  (Town does have a paid Fire Dept, but you better think in terms of self-help, or by the time they get on-scene, they will be saving the foundation). 

The fires in the video feed had already had a nice head start.  They don't start out that way.  Big problem with continuing gas, if that was the case, though.  You have to wonder if, once the over-pressure dropped back, the regulators would go to shut-off.   Nothing for you to worry about down there in SE Asia, though!  Cheers.

Edited by Jan van Eck
typing error
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(edited)

4 hours ago, Dan Warnick said:

 I don't see homeowner having the requisite "cajones" to deal with it on their own.  Most people would run from a gas fire, end of story. 

I have personally removed 57 people from burning vehicles and extinguished the fires.  But then again, I carry those big dry powder bottles of A-B-C extinguishing powder, good for oil and gasoline fires. I keep one bottle right behind the front seat where I can get at it in an instant (and also in case I get rear-ended!).  Grab the bottle, sprint to the fire, pull the pin, and work the flame in short sweep bursts at the base.  

The problem with vehicle fires is that if it gets a head start on you, it gets very difficult to put out, and you may end up losing the vehicle and people.  There was a nasty incident where a nursing home hired a bus to evacuate the residents down in Houston area, in the face of a hurricane.  The bus developed a flat due to a seized tag axle bearing.  The tire service guy changed the tire but did not recognize that the bearing had seized.  The driver continued the run, the replacement caught fire from friction dragging, and the fire spread from the wheel well into the bus body.  All the helpless people on that bus burned to death.  There was nobody trained to fight the fire or extricate.  The bus itself had a puny extinguisher that could put out a cigarette fire, not much more, and the driver abandoned the bus and people and ran away. Meanwhile that nursing home had no damage. 

Edited by Jan van Eck

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14 hours ago, Jan van Eck said:

Looks like a disaster unfolding just North of Boston.  Huge numbers of house fires apparently as gas lines over-pressure, blow gas past safety systems, and ignite.  Fire crews totally overwhelmed.  Live camera right now.

https://globalnews.ca/news/4447474/massachusetts-gas-explosions-towns-evacuated/?utm_source=Other&utm_medium=MostPopular&utm_campaign=2014

Three towns are hit:  Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover.  All use gas as a heating and cooking fuel source. Crews are trying to shut off the gas lines as we speak.  Governor on the way.

This points to an obvious flaw in the design of these gas distribution systems.  

Close the entire industry down. Thats the logic you applied to wind on a theoretical case ( i am reasonably sure there has never been an actual fatality or injury) of a blade flying off and hitting someone 😄

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9 hours ago, Dan Warnick said:

Come on, Jan.  I have to say that we both know what Epic's point was.  And you know that back up, redundant systems work in aircraft for just this type of failure.  And, it was clear from the video feeds that even when the fire department was quickly on the scene it took quite an effort to get the fire under control.  I don't know about low pressure gas into the house making a gas fire easy for a homeowner to deal with, but the firefighters would have been very careful dealing with a gas fire, so I don't see homeowner having the requisite "cajones" to deal with it on their own.  Most people would run from a gas fire, end of story. 

All American gas feeds have a quick-turn outside shut-off valve, you turn the flat plate a quarter-turn and the gas flow stops.  Once you do that, the fire is nothing more than an ordinary fire, and you fight it the same way - put water on it.  OK, you probably are going to need a pair of pliers to turn that outside valve, but if you are organized you keep your vise-grip handy if you have gas heat. 

That fire the crews were attacking looked like a kitchen-area fire.  In that case the gas probably shot out of the stove burners and ignited the cabinets above.  American kitchens have typically tile flooring and sheetrock for the walls and ceiling, so the fire remains contained to the fuel load of the kitchen cabinet wood at first.  You can tackle that  without a hose using a five-gallon pail from the bathroom.  I keep a 5-gal pail in the bathroom for that purpose; fast fill half-full from the tub faucet, then a big toss at the flames; repeat.  Should beat it back (once you have the outside valve shut).   Once the flames spread into a room with stuffed furniture and that ignites, I think your one-man battle is a lost cause, the smoke will drive you out of there. Oh, well. 

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23 minutes ago, NickW said:

Close the entire industry down. Thats the logic you applied to wind on a theoretical case ( i am reasonably sure there has never been an actual fatality or injury) of a blade flying off and hitting someone 😄

Nick, you are hi-jacking the thread.  I will say this:  the difference between industrial wind and natural gas is one of economic rents.  Those gas lines are paid for by consumer demand that is prepared to pay for the installation and the provision of that fuel. The windmill survives because of two sets of govt subsidies:  a capital payment on the project, in the USA at 30% investment tax credit, and a feed-in tariff, which forces consumers to subsidize that electricity source over and above competing sources, in my local case from hydropower.  Remove the subsidies and the case for industrial wind evaporates. 

If you want to go install a windmill on our own property in your backyard, hey go for it.  Put one up at 650 feet tall, and you are the King of the Mountain. Sounds good to me.  Not so friendly to force your neighbors to pay for it, though (which is what wind-farm developers do). 

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The latest according to a press conference now live at 1:20 pm EDT, crews have gone house to house and shut off 3,500 gas meters.  The sections that were over-pressured total 8,500 houses.  The remaining 5,000 houses still need to be shut off.  Then the long process of re-start will take place. 

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3 hours ago, Jan van Eck said:

The latest according to a press conference now live at 1:20 pm EDT, crews have gone house to house and shut off 3,500 gas meters.  The sections that were over-pressured total 8,500 houses.  The remaining 5,000 houses still need to be shut off.  Then the long process of re-start will take place.

Any chance this could be a hack attack?  A few months ago there were reports of Russian and NK hackers infiltrating US infrastructure systems and turning off the safety systems in hopes that the systems of overload and cause chaos.  Back then they were targeting pipelines, but I see no reason why they wouldn't also target US gas infrastructure as well.  

...just an idea.

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3 minutes ago, Epic said:

Any chance this could be a hack attack?  A few months ago there were reports of Russian and NK hackers infiltrating US infrastructure systems and turning off the safety systems in hopes that the systems of overload and cause chaos.  Back then they were targeting pipelines, but I see no reason why they wouldn't also target US gas infrastructure as well.  

...just an idea.

Unlikely.  I am under the impression that these valves are not electrically connected to a grid, that they are purely mechanical devices, and sit out there like silent sentinels. Looks like it might be one valve that got stuck, and the sub-lines sent from it to a specific set of distribution pipes, only houses off those pipes were affected. 

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(edited)

1 hour ago, Jan van Eck said:

Unlikely.  I am under the impression that these valves are not electrically connected to a grid, that they are purely mechanical devices, and sit out there like silent sentinels. Looks like it might be one valve that got stuck, and the sub-lines sent from it to a specific set of distribution pipes, only houses off those pipes were affected. 

"Hacks" are not limited to electrically controlled systems, but then again I guess that would be called sabotage.  You know, the old fashioned way that governments used to do things.  Like gentlemen.  😎

Who's to say?  Either way, sabotage or hacking, will the city/state government let us know?  You'll have to forgive me, it's almost 5 a.m. here and I've been watching Goodfellas, Scarface, The Godfather and a bunch of other "best of" clips, so I might be seeing the world through a lens at this point.  Ha-ha!

And Joe Pesci, a lot of Joe Pesci.  It could have been his crew.  Joe Pesci could get the job done.  George Carlin believed in Joe Pesci, even decided to start praying to him, "'cause Joe Pesci gets things done".

Edited by Dan Warnick
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The gas lines over-pressure episode caused one house to literally explode.  If you look  closely in the right-center of the photo, you will see the remaining trunk of the exterior chimney;  a solid section of about 20 rows of brick blew off and came down right on top of the driver seat of that silver truck-auto  (they call those things "SUV") in the driveway.  Unfortunately the 18-year-old son of that family was sitting in that seat, and he was killed by the crush of the chimney section. 

image.png.21e69e86060dc334360a3a2797131ff3.png  Wrecked house in Massachusetts.

The house itself is now an obvious total loss, complete with solar panels. It does raise some interesting issues as to home design.  None of these homes have an exterior "roof hatch,"  which wold serve multiple purposes:  (1)  allow easy access from the interior to the roof, for repair work; (2)  allow an escape path in case of fire in the floor below;   (3)  allow the fire department to ventilate accumulating hot gases, right now the drill is to bring in a large circular saw with a diamond blade to cut a hole about 4 feet square, then bust the section out with heavy fire axes, all of which takes time and is laborious;   (4) provide a blast escape path for the shock wave.  I remember my father's house built a century ago has such a roof access hatch, it was pretty much standard back in the day.  Today, you don't see them. 

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19 minutes ago, Jan van Eck said:

The gas lines over-pressure episode caused one house to literally explode.  If you look  closely in the right-center of the photo, you will see the remaining trunk of the exterior chimney;  a solid section of about 20 rows of brick blew off and came down right on top of the driver seat of that silver truck-auto  (they call those things "SUV") in the driveway.  Unfortunately the 18-year-old son of that family was sitting in that seat, and he was killed by the crush of the chimney section. 

image.png.21e69e86060dc334360a3a2797131ff3.png  Wrecked house in Massachusetts.

The house itself is now an obvious total loss, complete with solar panels. It does raise some interesting issues as to home design.  None of these homes have an exterior "roof hatch,"  which wold serve multiple purposes:  (1)  allow easy access from the interior to the roof, for repair work; (2)  allow an escape path in case of fire in the floor below;   (3)  allow the fire department to ventilate accumulating hot gases, right now the drill is to bring in a large circular saw with a diamond blade to cut a hole about 4 feet square, then bust the section out with heavy fire axes, all of which takes time and is laborious;   (4) provide a blast escape path for the shock wave.  I remember my father's house built a century ago has such a roof access hatch, it was pretty much standard back in the day.  Today, you don't see them. 

I was researching attic insulation and ventilation options awhile back and that was the first time I came across roof access hatches.  From the moment I saw one example I was like "Wow, great idea".  For all the reasons you mention, and more.  Are these common in Europe?  I think they should be in the minimum building code in the U.S. for new home construction, especially for multi-level homes.

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(edited)

12 minutes ago, Dan Warnick said:

I was researching attic insulation and ventilation options awhile back and that was the first time I came across roof access hatches.  From the moment I saw one example I was like "Wow, great idea".  For all the reasons you mention, and more.  Are these common in Europe?  I think they should be in the minimum building code in the U.S. for new home construction, especially for multi-level homes.

I have no idea.  I never paid attention to the feature.  Yet note that having the fire dept get up there and start sawing away and they are cutting through existing roof rafters, will weaken the structure and will be expensive to repair.  Having an existing hatch up there with the proper stringer and doublers screwed in means the roof retains integrity, allowing the firemen to attack the fire from the roof as well as the ground. You cannot do that if you are sawing up the roof rafters. 

Edited by Jan van Eck
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On 9/14/2018 at 4:20 PM, Jan van Eck said:

Nick, you are hi-jacking the thread.  I will say this:  the difference between industrial wind and natural gas is one of economic rents.  Those gas lines are paid for by consumer demand that is prepared to pay for the installation and the provision of that fuel. The windmill survives because of two sets of govt subsidies:  a capital payment on the project, in the USA at 30% investment tax credit, and a feed-in tariff, which forces consumers to subsidize that electricity source over and above competing sources, in my local case from hydropower.  Remove the subsidies and the case for industrial wind evaporates. 

If you want to go install a windmill on our own property in your backyard, hey go for it.  Put one up at 650 feet tall, and you are the King of the Mountain. Sounds good to me.  Not so friendly to force your neighbors to pay for it, though (which is what wind-farm developers do). 

No I am not. On the same basis that people have actually been killed and seriously injured by gas pipelines surely you would apply the same criteria to these as you Jan, apply to wind farms. Not that anyone has ever been killed or injured by a flying turbine blade.

I am not anti gas and I accept there is some level of residual risk in any development. 

Has anyone installed a wind turbine on your property by force or anyone elses. Of course they haven't so your last point is nonsense. 

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1 minute ago, NickW said:

No I am not. On the same basis that people have actually been killed and seriously injured by gas pipelines surely you would apply the same criteria to these as you Jan, apply to wind farms. Not that anyone has ever been killed or injured by a flying turbine blade.

I am not anti gas and I accept there is some level of residual risk in any development. 

Has anyone installed a wind turbine on your property by force or anyone elses. Of course they haven't so your last point is nonsense. 

Actually, wind turbines do get installed on or infringing on private property against the wishes of the land owners here, together with other infringements.  And that is because the installations are governed by an administrative Board whose members are picked by the Governor, working on the principle of "public convenience and necessity."  The abuses have led to a popular revolt, and the current (Republican) Governor has avowed that he will blanket veto any future application for wind machines in Vermont. 

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18 minutes ago, Jan van Eck said:

Actually, wind turbines do get installed on or infringing on private property against the wishes of the land owners here, together with other infringements.  And that is because the installations are governed by an administrative Board whose members are picked by the Governor, working on the principle of "public convenience and necessity."  The abuses have led to a popular revolt, and the current (Republican) Governor has avowed that he will blanket veto any future application for wind machines in Vermont. 

Do they actually get forced onto other peoples land? 'Farmer Joe doesn't want the turbines but Acme Wind Power forces him to have 30 turbines on his land' type scenario.

I know utilities can force land owners to accept transmission lines across their land but then they serve all forms of electrical generation. 

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This is natural disaster. US should be careful.

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I'm skeptical about buying the official explanation.  It took the military years to develop an effective fuel-air explosive because the mixture has to be just right to generate an actual explosion vs the annoying "whoomph" you get when a gas burner finally catches in your grille (why don't grille tops blow off, eh?).

Typical appliances can hold back far more pressure than typical pressures.  While SOME modern appliances don't use a pilot flame, those which do not don't start releasing gas until the igniters are going - so gas "forced into the house" would only ignite, not explode.

But then again, Googling the event I only see one home that actually looks like there was an explosion, the rest just look like fires.  That is in the realm of reasonable possibility, just over-hyped the "explosions" part in the news which we have come to expect.

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(edited)

i think prayers only works at times..

Edited by Abdul Rahim

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🙏

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