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Menino Voices Concerns Over House Explosion

By Ron Sanders, WBZ-TV
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Front end loader moving what's left of the leveled home. (credit: Bernice Corpuz, WBZ News Radio)

Front end loader moving what’s left of the leveled home. (credit: Bernice Corpuz, WBZ News Radio)

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HYDE PARK (CBS) – Relief that no one was hurt by the natural gas explosion that leveled a home and did an estimated million dollars in damage to surrounding homes and buildings has given way to anxiety and frustration about how it happened and how to prevent it from happening again.

The same Boston Water and Sewer Commission contractor that hit a gas line, fueling the house explosion, DeFelice Corporation, was back at work this afternoon, filling the hole it was digging yesterday.

That left neighbors uneasy as the home owner returned to the scene with his partner and mother.

“All I know is there’s going to be a lot of upset people and a lot of questions being asked and hopefully we’ll get some answers and find out what really happened,” said Michael Burns, owner of the home destroyed.

Jim Mariano, who owns B.C. Baking Company less than a block from the explosion scene, says one of his brick ovens was cracked by the blast. “Truthfully, I’m nervous,” he said.

Mayor Menino’s home is a block from the scene.  His wife told him the explosion felt like an earthquake.  “Was Dig Safe brought in early enough to mark off the area around it?” the Mayor asked, “the contractor has the obligation to call Dig Safe in and it’s a question, did they call Dig Safe in,” he said.

No one at DeFelice offices in Dracut would comment when WBZ called and visited in person. They later issued a statement through their attorney that said: “DeFelice Corporation contacted Dig Safe prior to commencing excavation activities.  DeFelice Corporation complied with its obligations and relied upon the established process to identify underground utilities in the area.”

WBZ has been told DeFelice contacted Dig Safe about work on Reynold Road, and NSTAR tells us they had a formal request for markings on that street.

However, the hole dug by workers extends onto Danny Road, and NSTAR tells WBZ they did not get a formal request to mark lines on that street.

NSTAR released its Dig Safe document this afternoon that references only work on Reynold Road from Chesterfield to Como.

“I’m just concerned for the neighborhood and what’s going on here.  If this happens again, it’s just going to devastate this entire area,” said Mariano.

Neighbors, the Mayor and other officials involved planned to hold a meeting at the Hyde Park Municipal Building Thursday evening.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the state’s Public Utilities Commission is now investigating the explosion.

DeFelice has done work for the city since 2003.  A Water and Sewer Commission spokesman says its legal department is reviewing the matter.

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