Gas to blame for mall explosion

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pretoria - An investigation into the explosion that occurred at the Bloed Street Mall on Tuesday has pointed to liquid petroleum gas (LPG) escaping from the gas line to have caused the incident.

At least seven people were injured during the blast believed to have caused damages estimated to R400 000.

A report by the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality's Fire Brigade Department indicated that the gas escaped while a technician was working on the gas meter. The gas meter was removed to be replaced.

"It is suspected that the technician did not shut off the gas supply, or that he drained the line before removing the meter, causing gas to escape. The ignition source is not known," said municipal spokesperson Console Tleane.

Tleane said during the investigation a number of shortcomings were also identified. These include a lack of emergency shut-off valve for the gas where the gas pipe enters the building.

Also the emergency shut-off valves at appliances were hidden behind the appliances and not readily accessible. Gas lines penetrating through the wall were not sleeved, as it was required.

"In addition, the gas line in the ceiling was of a lesser required thickness. A gas line that goes though the ceiling must be of a thickness almost similar to steel. Usually gas lines are made of copper," he said.

The gas lines that go through the ceiling should have also been colour-coded, usually in dark brown, so that, in the event of fire, the fire-fighters may know what pipe contains gas and they can secure it accordingly.

Tleane said the Fire Brigade Services has issued a warning to the mall management and will be ensuring that they comply with all the requirements for gas installations and use.