The Fresno Bee is reporting that A natural gas line was clearly marked when a heavy equipment operator apparently nicked the line, sparking an explosion and fireball Friday near Highway 99 that injured 13 people, officials with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Fresno County said Saturday.
PG&E spokesman Denny Boyles said the company routinely guides construction workers around gas and electric utilities, but the company was never notified that the county intended to dig near the 12-inch transmission line at the Fresno County Sheriff’s Foundation gun range in northwest Fresno.
Fresno County Public Works Director Alan Weaver confirmed the county did not contact PG&E ahead of time, but said the county wasn’t planning to do any digging near the line Friday.
Weaver said he had not yet seen the work order or spoken with the employee, who was among those critically injured in the blast. But he believes the county public works office did not call PG&E because someone believed the tractor driver was working on a nearby road, well away from the gas line, and did not warrant a call to the utility.
On Saturday, the shooting range was locked down as investigators with the California Public Utilities Commission examined the blast area to determine what happened and why. Boyles said PG&E was assisting the commission with its investigation. Separate investigations also are under way by the Fresno Fire Department, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office and the county public works department. Cal OSHA was at the scene Friday afternoon, Boyles said.
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