By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – It is one year later, yet a Hyde Park couple whose house was leveled by a natural gas explosion is still struggling to put the pieces back together.

Homeowners Bob Houser and Mike Burns lost everything on November 3, 2010, when a contractor working for the city hit a gas line in front of their Readville home.

Their home was reduced to rubble, and it’s now a vacant lot.

WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports

But they are still paying the mortgage – and all their other bills – as they fight with their insurance company over how much their property is worth.

As Houser puts it, “One day we have a house and money in savings, and all of a sudden we’re down to gravel and a lot of money lost out of savings.”

“The process just seems grueling and it just seems like it’s never going to end,” adds Burns.

In seconds, their house was reduced to rubble.

But it turns out that dealing with that, in retrospect, was the easy part.

Over the past twelve months, they’ve had to pay tens of thousands of dollars in cash out of their own pockets.

They had to pick up the cost for the demolition of their destroyed house; they even got billed for the port-a-potties that crews used on the scene.

“Until somebody is found legally responsible, then the homeowner is responsible for everything,” explains Houser. “We have insurance, but we haven’t settled with the insurance company yet.”

Since the couple can’t prove their house was in excellent condition before the explosion, and since the real estate market is so bad, the offer they got from their insurance company was actually for less than they owe on their property.

“We’d just love to see people do what’s morally right instead of only have to do what the bare minimum is legally right,” says Houser.

Last spring, the state’s Department of Public Utilities did find Dracut-based Defelice contractors to be “in violation” of the state’s Dig Safe laws. It also found the company failed to employ “reasonable precautions” that could have prevented damage.

But the company is appealing that decision.

There is a hearing scheduled on the matter set for early next year.

  1. JohnC says:

    This is just Wrong. Among other things, it should be the burden of the insursance company to prove that the house was not in “excellent condition,” not on Bob and Mike to prove that it was.

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