This case study is a natural gas pipeline explosion in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The following excerpts from the February 10, 2011 The Morning Call (Lehigh Valley News) and The New York Times provide excellent summaries of the incident:
Fifth Body Found in Rubble of Allentown Blast: Explosion destroys at least two center city homes, sets six on fire, more than 600 people evacuated, Christopher Baxter, Frank Warner and Andrew McGill, The Morning Call
“ALLENTOWN, Pa.— Five people — including a 4-month-old boy — died in Allentown’s massive gas explosion and fire, authorities confirmed at a Thursday afternoon news conference.
About a dozen people were injured and more than 350 were forced to evacuate from surrounding blocks and the Gross Towers seniors apartment complex when an apparent gas leak ignited at 544 N. 13th St.
The mayor said two properties were leveled by the blast and six more have to be razed, and a total of 47 properties, including 10 businesses, were damaged.
The mayor said what the victims’ need most “is dollars,” and urged those who want to help to call the American Red Cross of the Greater Lehigh Valley.
About 70 people were likely to be displaced long-term. All residents of Gross Towers have returned to their homes.
At least five Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority buses took senior residents from the eight-story west and 12-story east buildings of the Gross Towers, according to police reports. Buses were stacked up in the 600 block of 14th Street.
About 200 people were evacuated to the Agri-Plex at the Allentown Fairgrounds, but there were only tables and chairs – no beds. Five busloads of dazed and bleary-eyed evacuees began arriving about 12:30 a.m. The American Red Cross of the Greater Lehigh Valley also responded.
Displaced people at the Agri-Plex were given hot beverages and snacks, said Janice Osborne, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross. Vicky Kistler, director of the Allentown Health Bureau, was there along with nurses to tend to any needs of the Gross Towers residents, Osborne said.
Two Allentown schools were closed Thursday. Luis A. Ramos Elementary School at 1430 W. Allen Street and the IBEAM Academy, the former Jackson Elementary School, at 517 N. 15th St. were closed.”
“Utility officials said the gas line was a 12-inch low-pressure main, made of cast iron and installed in the 1920s.
Nationwide, it was the latest of several gas-related explosions in recent months. Last month, a 12-inch gas main exploded in a residential neighborhood in Philadelphia, killing a gas company employee and injuring six other people. The cause of that blast remains under investigation. In December, two people died when a gas main explosion destroyed a furniture store in Wayne, Mich.
In September, a natural gas pipe burst in San Bruno, Calif., killing eight people and destroying nearly 40 houses. The National Transportation Safety Board said that pipe had numerous flaws in its welds.
Two gas line explosions a day apart in June killed three people in Texas.”
Interviews were conducted with John Hughes, Regional CEO of the American Red Cross of the Greater Lehigh Valley and and Northeastern Pennsylvania and Alan Jennings, Executive Director of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley.