LUBBOCK - The Fire Marshal’s Office is taking a closer look at the gas lines inside a home on the 4400 block of 102nd Street, after lightning struck that house causing a gas leak.
When lightning struck the chimney, electricity then entered the attic and tore holes in the yellow corrugated stainless steel gas tubing. The yellow CSST tubing was made illegal to install last year, following a fatal gas explosion that killed 31-year-old Brennen Teel in 2012.
"Now we've got a hole and hazardous material leaking through the attic that is potentially explosive," Fire Marshal Garett Nelson said. He was the lead investigator on that case five years ago.
Teel was visiting friends in Lubbock when lightning struck a home, perforating the yellow CSST and causing a gas leak. That gas built up in the attic of the home, causing an explosion in which Teel was killed.
"You know, it may have been years, but it is still fresh to us," Nelson said.
In 2016 City Council passed an ordinance banning the yellow flexible, easy-to-install tubing, but about 10,000 Lubbock homes built before that ordinance still contain it.
"This isn't just about one house,” Nelson said. “This isn't about your house or my house. It's about a group of homes that together cover a wide swath of our community that thunderstorms come across it on a regular basis, and every time they do, we have cloud-to-ground lightning...a lot of it."
The homeowners in this most recent incident say they built their home five years ago and were not aware which tubing they had in their attic.
Nelson says homeowners have options. A type of 'lightning-resistant' CSST tubing has been made legal, along with the thicker black metal tubes that have been used for over a hundred years. There are no documented cases of lightning puncturing the black metal tubes.
"They need to know what they've got in their attic,” Nelson said. It is really not hard to figure out. People will say, ‘I don’t know what kind of gas line I’ve got...I don’t know how to do that.’ But if they will get up in their attic and look, it is pretty easy to spot."
Nelson urges people to never underestimate electricity.
"Especially God's electricity... those lightning strikes have a massive amount of power and energy, and that energy is going to go somewhere."
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