Thursday, June 07, 2001

Gas line set ablaze


Lightning sparked fire in Harrison

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HARRISON — Lightning struck a Cinergy utility pole Wednesday morning, causing a transformer to explode at Harrison Avenue and Hill Street and sparking a natural gas fire that damaged a nearby building.

[photo] Harrison Fire Capt. Mike Haberthier was on the scene of a natural gas fire at Hill Street and Harrison Avenue Wednesday.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |
        After the strike, one of the power lines fell on the sidewalk and onto the cover of a gas shutoff valve, Cinergy spokesman Dave Woodburn said. “That's 19,900 volts. That caused some of the copper pipe to melt and a gas leak ensued, and it was ignited.”

        An employee preparing to open Skidmore TV & Appliances in a two-story brick building at 419 Harrison Ave. reported the incident to firefighters about 8:30 a.m.

        “He just heard a big explosion, then he heard another big explosion,” owner John Skidmore said. “Then he actually saw the fire shooting through the building, and came back out.”

        Firefighters quickly extinguished a small fire in the basement of the building, which experienced fire, smoke and heat damage. An estimate of the damage was not available.

        Fire Chief Alan Kinnett said the situation could have turned out worse.

        “We had a gas fire that was speeding into the air but also extending through the accessway for the valve into the building,” the chief said. “The big problem we had was the potential for explosion.”

        Fire units from Bright, Ind., and Whitewater Township, assisted.
       



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