BOSTON (CBS) – It took 939 long days full of questions and waiting, but Bob Houser and Michael Burns now have proof of what they suspected all along.
When their Hyde Park house exploded in 2010, it was the fault of a contractor hired to do underground work for the city of Boston.
“It was very, very frustrating,” homeowner Michael Burns says of the time spent since the explosion. “Just the ridiculousness of the procedures and the process, has just been really frustrating.”
It was November 3, 2010 when DeFelice Corporation hit a gas line. In moments the couple’s house was splinters.
DeFelice has denied responsibility all along. But now, two-and-a-half years later, that’s no longer an option. This week, investigators with the state’s Department of Public Utilities (DPU) concluded a lengthy review process and ruled the Dracut company did not take proper safety precautions. The DPU also found that the company was digging somewhere they weren’t supposed to.
“This is great, this is at least the next step,” says homeowner Bob Houser. “We’ve waited two-and-a-half years for this point to be able to move forward in the process.”
DeFelice Corporation will have to pay the state $31,000 in fines. But Burns and Houser get nothing. The couple has had to pay the mortgage on a house that doesn’t exist anymore; they live in an apartment now. Two weeks ago, they made the difficult decision to put their land up for sale.
They also recently settled their long-standing case with their insurance company, but they are left with tens of thousands of dollars in debts they’ve had to pay out-of-pocket.
“We have significant costs and losses that weren’t covered by insurance,” Houser explains. “We’re asking one thing: to be able to move forward with those found at fault to help make us whole.”
The couple hopes DeFelice will reimburse them.
“When this first happened people would say to us, ‘Oh. you’re going to be multi-millionaires! You can build your dream home.’ But that’s not the reality,” Houser says. “The reality is you have to fight tooth-and-nail when somebody does something like this to be able just to try to get to be whole again.”
DeFelice Corporation released this statement to WBZ-TV Friday afternoon:
DeFelice Corporation (“DeFelice”) is disappointed with the decision issued by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities concerning compliance with Dig Safe, Inc. requirements associated with excavations on Como and Danny Road in Hyde Park.
The undisputed facts remain that DeFelice contacted Dig Safe on two separate occasions and requested the utility companies mark the utilities on the construction project. The DPU acknowledged that DeFelice appropriately pre-marked the proposed area of excavation. In response to DeFelice’s calls to Dig Safe, NSTAR Gas actually marked the gas lines utilities well past the 17 Danny Road location, at least 47 feet down Danny Road, including gas mains and gas services.
Despite marking other gas utilities on Danny Road, it is undisputed that NSTAR did not mark the gas service to 17 Danny Road which DeFelice later encountered.
DeFelice remains steadfast in its conviction that had the gas line been properly (marked), the explosion would have been avoided.
DeFelice is evaluating all of its rights of appeal, and is looking forward to presenting the evidence in an independent and impartial forum.