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A natural gas leak in Kansas City made for an extremely dangerous situation as firefighters tried to battle flames at a local nail salon March 21. According to Fox 4 News, emergency responders were trying to determine the location of the gas leak inside the business. The leak, along with no working fire hydrants, kept the fire burning into the next morning.
The fire was first reported around 10:30 p.m. on March 21 and firefighters remained at the scene through the overnight hours. The lack of working fire hydrants caused personnel to find another way to battle the fire. Fox 4 said as many as 15 firefighting units were at the scene at once to try and contain the fire.
The battalion chief warned bystanders of the possibility of an explosion inside the building while small explosions could be heard inside the Kansas City Nails and Supply Salon, Fox 4 reported.
Gas leak response rules changed by fire department
A week before the fire outbreak at the nail salon, the Kansas City Fire Department announced it had altered its rules for responding to gas leaks. Prompted by a fatal explosion in the city in February, Fire Chief Paul Berardi said a battalion chief and a fire truck with gas level monitoring equipment will be sent to any location that may have a natural gas leak in the future, according to The Associated Press.
Firefighters who travel to the scene of a gas leak will now stay until the risk from a gas leak is resolved and talk with gas utility experts to determine if nearby locations should be evacuated to prevent injury, the AP reported.
The fatality of a worker at a restaurant occurred February 19 when an explosion destroyed the building after a contractor busted an underground gas pipe. The AP reported the explosion also injured approximately 15 people.
"Injuries to the public and the loss of property weigh heavily on firefighters, whether in major events such as this or in the fires and accidents we address every day," Berardi said. "KCFD accordingly reviews all major operations, especially those involving injury or a fatality, for the purpose of improving firefighters' ability to better protect human life and property."
A firefighter who responded to the scene in February, and later left after a gas company employee allegedly said he had things under control, told the restaurant staff to turn off ignition sources and wait for the gas company to issue an all-clear, the AP reported.
However, an hour later the fatal explosion occurred. According to the AP, the explosion was caused by the accidental ignition of natural gas vapors inside the restaurant from two pilot lights that were on.
A combustible gas leak detector can warn employees when a gas leak has occurred, giving them more time to exit the building and notify emergency responders.
Industrial Safety News brought to you by Safety Systems Technology, Inc., leaders in fire and gas detection systems.