1 reportedly injured in Cleveland Clinic gas line fire

May 20th, 2016 | By admin | Category: Natural Gas Leaks

NatGas Consulting

Filed on May 20, 2016 by 
1 Comment

AVON — A gas line break and fire led to the evacuation of the Cleveland Clinic Richard E. Jacobs Health Center on Thursday morning.

Daniel Row, an employee of Davey Tree, was mowing grass in front of the center and his lawn mower struck a gas line that ignited and charred the lawnmower.

Avon Fire Chief Frank Root said Row was lucky to have only received minor burns, and he walked away from the accident and refused medical treatment. Row declined to comment about the accident saying only that he was “very shook up.”

Fire departments from Avon, Avon Lake, North Ridgeville, Sheffield, Sheffield Township, Westlake and Bay Village were on the scene along with several private ambulance companies.

Root said crews from Avon, Avon Lake, North Ridgeville and Sheffield worked to extinguish the fire and prevent its spread and checked for building damage.

Squads from Avon, Westlake, Bay Village and Sheffield and Elyria townships, along with squads from Donald Marten & Sons and the Cleveland Clinic, helped transport several patients who were at the center recovering from surgical procedures to other locations.

No one besides Row was injured, Root said, and the building wasn’t damaged.

Root said crews let natural gas burn under such circumstances because attempting to extinguish a fire prior to shutting off the gas could lead to a more explosive situation.

“The clinic and fire departments did a really great job, and I’m extremely impressed with the way Columbia Gas handled this,” Root said.

Nurses and medical professionals who gathered outside said they saw flames and felt the building shake and their first concern was getting patients outside to safety.

“We heard the explosion from the third floor,” nurse Theresa Caine said.

“The building just vibrated,” she said.

Lorain Councilwoman Mary Springowski was at the health center at 9 a.m. for lab tests and, just after her tests were done, she heard the explosion.

Springowski ran into the waiting area to get to her husband and daughter and she saw nurses running around, opening doors and telling everyone to immediately evacuate.

“It was rather nerve racking because all we knew was that there had been some sort of explosion and then a fire,” she said. “I have to hand it to Dr. Brian Costin. According to my daughter, he was focused and made sure to properly evacuate the patients and employees and then did a double check of the office.”

According to a statement from Columbia Gas, the riding lawn mower hit and damaged the gas line, and some escaping gas ignited, starting the fire about 9:45 a.m.

Columbia Gas spokeswoman Corinne Gleckler said the piece that was hit by the lawn mower was an above-ground pressure regulator that reduces gas pressure from a main line to a lower pressure before it is fed into the building. The protection of the regulator meets safety standards, she said, but Columbia Gas will work with the Cleveland Clinic to avoid future accidents.

“This incident serves as a reminder for all to use caution when mowing around above-ground natural gas facilities,” Gleckler said.

The gas line was shut off by Columbia Gas, and the fire was extinguished before 11 a.m. Workers at the health center were allowed to return to the center shortly afterward.

The Richard E. Jacobs Health Center is an outpatient medical center and is not the same as the adjacent Cleveland Clinic hospital currently under construction.

The hospital is expected to open later this year, and construction wasn’t affected Thursday. Construction crews continued working while the Richard E. Jacobs Health Center was evacuated.

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