A utility worker was killed and 15 other people were injured Monday in a natural gas line explosion and fire that reduced a Murrieta home to charred rubble.
Murrieta Fire & Rescue Deputy Chief David Lantzer said crews initially responded to the home in the 23500 block of Wooden Horse Trail near Spicewood Avenue at 10:57 a.m. due to a ruptured gas line.
Southern California Gas Co. crews arrived at 11:23 a.m. to being repair work on the line, but at 12:10 p.m., an explosion occurred, Lantzer said.
SoCalGas officials confirmed that one of the company’s workers was killed in the blast.
“We are incredibly saddened that we have a loss of one of our employees today at this incident,” SoCalGas spokesman Randon Lane said. “We are not releasing any information at this time as the investigation unfolds and the family has yet to be informed.”
Lantzer said 15 people were taken to hospitals for treatment. He said he did not have details on any of their conditions.
In a statement, SoCalGas officials indicated that other utility workers were injured, but it was unclear how many. The Gas Co. also indicated that a resident of the home may be unaccounted for.
It was unclear how many firefighters who were on the scene may have been injured.
Gas Co. officials said they responded to the home on reports “of a natural gas line that was damaged by a contractor working on a home on Wooden Horse Trail in the city of Murrieta. Shortly after crews arrived, there was an explosion.”
One other home was partially damaged on the side facing the burned-out residence, but it did not catch fire.
The Riverside Press-Enterprise cited a witness account in reporting that a natural gas line was apparently struck while solar panel and landscape workers were working on the home.
According to SoCalGas, utility crews stopped the flow of gas to the property about 1 p.m.
Murrieta police closed Clinton Keith Road to all traffic from Smith Ranch Road to Nutmeg Street, and said no one would be allowed into the area — including residents — for an undetermined period of time for safety reasons.
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