- December 15, 2022
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Product Liability
For many people, using natural gas for cooking and heating is a routine part of life. For those who work with it professionally, a day at work is usually just a day at work, much like in any other industry.
It’s easy for most of us to forget just how much danger this invisible, toxic, explosive substance can pose when handled incorrectly. Companies that profit off of natural gas and its accompanying infrastructure, however, do not have the right to forget.
Just like airlines and hospitals, gas companies must adhere faithfully to safety protocols, or people will die.
This applies to every step of every gas-related service, from odorizing the gas itself, to engineering leak-proof equipment, to making sure installation personnel are properly trained and certified to follow current plumbing codes.
Any company that does not take this responsibility seriously is willingly endangering its customers.
Two Atlanta Residents Are Dead Following a Gas-Fueled House Fire on Bolton Road
At around 8:30 on the morning of December 3rd, 2022, a single-family home on the 900 block of Bolton Road NW burst into flames, killing the two people inside.
Firefighters responding to the incident noticed a continuing smell of natural gas outside the house with no obvious source. To protect the surviving local residents, they evacuated the rest of the street while they worked on the burning house.
Once the flames were out, Atlanta Gas Light discovered and acknowledged a gas leak in the house’s front yard. One resident reports that Atlanta Gas Light representatives began checking gas levels in nearby houses, and that one of them told her the outdoor gas levels were at an explosive concentration.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board also confirmed that the fire was fueled by natural gas.
As quick and efficient as the response to this incident seems to have been on all sides, it should never have been allowed to happen in the first place. Because it did, two lives were lost forever.
Gas Explosion Attorneys Can Help Survivors Pinpoint Negligence and Collect Compensation
When an accidental gas explosion or fire happens, it means that something went wrong at some point in the process of distributing, storing, or using the gas. While some gas accidents are caused solely by the end user, those are quite rare. Usually, the root of the problem is far out of the victim’s hands.
Because keeping gas equipment functioning safely involves so many steps, often performed by multiple companies, responsibility for an accident is not always obvious.
In the Bolton Road fire, for example, it’s possible that Atlanta Gas Light did not sufficiently odorize its gas. This is usually how victims are able to spend an extended period of time in a gas-filled space without noticing. That seems less likely in this case, however, because the firefighters were able to smell the gas leak in the yard.
Natural gas dissipates fairly quickly in well-ventilated areas, and dirt can absorb and hide much of its odor. There would have had to be a large amount of the odorant present for the firefighters to detect it outdoors.
More probably, Atlanta Gas Light would be liable for poor installation and/or maintenance of its gas lines. There are scenarios, however, where Atlanta Gas Light might not be the culpable party.
If another utility or construction company disturbed a marked gas line and caused the leak, for example, that company would be liable for those two people’s wrongful deaths.
Most for-profit companies will not accept responsibility for an accident willingly, and if they do, the compensation they offer will be less than what they actually owe. That’s why it’s so important for survivors to have a lawyer in their corner, to investigate the cause of the accident and fight for a fair settlement.
If you are the next-of-kin to the two people killed on Bolton Road, or if your family has also been harmed by a natural gas accident, reach out to The Stoddard Firm to learn more about your legal options.