Becky Says...

October 10, 2001

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Backhoes and Gas Mains

The backhoes are at it again. At some point tonight in the eastern part of Chapel Hill, a backhoe operator hit a gas main. You can imagine the fireball that started. The backhoe operator was not hurt, but the television pictures of the melted power lines was impressive. For the record, I understand there was one person injured, but that the injuries are not life-threatening.

At this point, several hours after the fire started, it is now out. A spokesman for the gas company said the backhoe operator was doing some work for another utility company, and that the gas lines had been marked. He called it an accident, and gets points for not using the word, "careless."

It is merciful that the fire department has a nearby station, and were able to respond very quickly. The blaze was happening in front of two gas stations, both of which keep their tanks pretty full to serve a high volume of customers. Except for losing power, neither station was affected.

A thousand customers are without power. Mercifully, I am not one of them, but the law firm (which is three blocks east of the fire site) is. I know this because the voice mail system won't work if the power is off, and a call to the office went unanswered. There was no estimate from the power company on when service could be restored.

It's going to be interesting getting around tomorrow---the gas main was a few feet shy of the intersection of two of the busiest roads in Chapel Hill. And Fall Break for the University doesn't start till afternoon.

Amazing how much can change with one misplaced thrust of a backhoe, isn't it?

Text copyright 2000-2001 Becky