After fatal Murrieta gas line explosion, SoCal Gas reminds homeowners to call 811 before digging

IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) -- Southern California Gas is warning residents about the importance of contacting authorities before any project that requires digging around gas lines to prevent another disaster similar to July's deadly explosion in Murrieta.

In that explosion, a SoCal Gas company worker was killed and 15 people were injured when an explosion and fire leveled a home in Murrieta, officials said.

SoCalGas said it appears a contractor had been working on the home and had failed to call 811 to check for gas lines before digging.

"Call 811 before you dig. We'll be out right away to mark, to see if there's any infrastructure in your area and to make you safe," said David Buczkowski, Vice President of SoCal Gas.

That's the message authorities tried to drive home with a demonstration. Accidents involving ruptured gas lines are a common worry for utility workers and first responders.

"These are very dangerous emergencies for us and we've noticed over the last couple of years, there's been an increase in these calls." Cpt. John Muir of the Orange County Fire Authority said.

One concern authorities have is residents believe they will be charged if they call 811, but the call is free.

"That's the thing for homeowners, there is no charge, and that's one of the messages we're trying to get out, that this is a free service for homeowners, so if you're having someone do work in your yard, just call 811," said Jason Corsey of the DIG Safe Board.

Even if you're just doing some gardening, officials say call 811. In fact, the biggest problem the utilities see is landscapers unknowingly digging down and hitting a gas line.
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