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 begin 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.”
Officials said 15 people were taken to hospitals for treatment, three of whom were Murrieta firefighters. No details were released on any of their conditions.
SoCalGas 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.”
SoCalGas Vice President of Construction Cedric Williams said preliminary information indicates that the contractor did not call 811 to have gas lines marked prior to digging on the property as required by law.
“We urge all contractors and homeowners to ensure that 811 is called and utility lines are marked prior to excavation of any sort. No matter what you’re doing — if you’re digging, call 811, even if the work doesn’t involve natural gas or natural gas appliances, as was apparently the case here,” Williams said.
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 Nutmeg Street to Carrington Street.
Nearby residents unable to return to their homes were diverted to a care center in the Vista Murrieta High School gym at 28251 Clinton Keith Road, according to Lantzer. Fire officials were working to complete damage assessment before giving the all-clear.
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