Quick Start Guide Natural Gas Utilities


Incidents • Many lightning-related fires and natural gas leaks involving CSST have been reported nationwide. From 1996 to August 2011, 141 fires involving lightning and CSST were reported in the U.S.* • A couple was entertaining a friend at their new home when a clap of thunder appeared to set off their burglar alarm. The husband and the friend went to the garage to get a ladder so they could disable the system when an explosion occurred. The husband was able to climb out from under the buckled garage door. The friend’s body was found at the rear of the garage. Investigators believe he opened the drop-down staircase, not realizing the attic was ablaze. Oxygen rushed in and caused a back-draft explosion that killed him. Investigators found that lightning had struck the metal cap on the chimney, descended into the attic, then “arced” to the CSST pipe, where it punched a number of tiny holes in the thin wall. The holes allowed natural gas to escape and ignite, creating small “flame jets” that quickly spread to the rest of the attic. • During a thunderstorm, lightning struck or hit near a residence. The home was built in 2003 using CSST that was not bonded or grounded. The energy from the lightning strike migrated to the CSST and caused a perforation, releasing natural gas and causing real and personal property damage. Many older homes built before states began tightening building codes governing CSST have likely not been retrofitted to reflect the new recommendations. Licensed electricians can remedy the problem, while educating the public about this potential hazard can help ensure appropriate remediation measures are taken. * “Validation of Installation Methods for CSST Gas Piping to Mitigate Lightning Related Damage, Phase 1,” by SEFTIM. Copyright 2011 by Fire Protection Research Foundation.

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