CONCORD, N.H. (CBS/AP) — New Hampshire’s fire marshal is warning homeowners to make certain that natural and propane gas lines coming into their homes are properly grounded.

Fire Marshal J. William Degnan, who is president of the National Association of State Fire Marshals, says that eight house fires in New Hampshire in the past four years were caused by nearby lightning strikes that compromised ungrounded lines.

“We’ve seen a number of fires across the state following lightning strikes,” Degnan told WBZ-TV. “The common denominator that was found was none of these systems were bonded.”

Degnan is encouraging homeowners to have a licensed electrician or gas line installer check their lines if they suspect they may not be properly grounded.

He said the grounding device should be visible inside the home at the point where the gas line enters the home and connects with yellow corrugated stainless steel tubing.

There are likely thousands of homeowners at risk. That’s because although this type of stainless steel tubing is common, bonding or grounding the pipes wasn’t common practice until about two years ago.

Steve Labbe of Paradigm Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning, says the industry learned from their mistakes. “When they finally realized the lightning was a problem, they finally regrouped and said we’ve got to get the word out,” he said. Labbe says checking your heating system could save lives.

The eight New Hampshire fires caused extensive structural damage but no fatalities.

WBZ-TV’s Lauren Leamanczyk contributed to this report.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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