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Hot time and PG&E at it again.

Hot time and PG&E at it again.

Hot time and PG&E at it again.

A customer of mine with a large facility had a horrendous problem a week ago. An oil heater used to heat-trace failed and caught fire. The place got cranking. Every fire engine in a city of 150k was called in (14) and they had about 20 hose lines going.

General mayhem.

Seat of the fire.


This was odd. All the overhead motors were gone. Well, their housings anyway, but they all left their rotors standing on end on the ground under where they were mounted. What happened to the housings?

VFD's didn't fair well.. Everything around them looked okay but if you open breaker panels you see all the breakers have slagged back into the panels.

Here's where good old bungling PG&E comes in. They got there fairly quickly and when asked to drop the power they promptly did. TO THE BUILDING ACROSS THE PARKING LOT NEXT DOOR!! They left the single, pole mounted 300kVA three phase transformer that runs only the facility energized. Fairly soon one cut-out blew on it leaving 2 phases energized into the structure until the fire was out.

BUT WAIT! It gets better! After all those engines had pumped tens of thousands of gallons on the fire for more than three and a half hours the question "How can this still be burning!!??" was raised by the fire staff. The answer is simple..
PG&E didn't bother to turn off the 2-1/2 inch 3.5psi gas line into the seat of the fire. Even though it is literally the first thing one comes to when driving up to the facility. It's estimated the damage was double it would've been if the gas had been turned off when the PG&E representative arrived.

Keith Cress
kcress - http://www.flaminsystems.com

RE: Hot time and PG&E at it again.

Many fire houses have a document for industrial buildings so they know where the shutoffs are and what chemicals are on the premises.

RE: Hot time and PG&E at it again.

Quote (itsmoked)

What happened to the housings?
Aluminum stator housings, no doubt.

Brad Waybright

It's all okay as long as it's okay. That does seem weird, though.

RE: Hot time and PG&E at it again.

Wait until the end of the month when PG&E sends the bill for the gas they used to fan the flames.

"Why not the best?"
Jimmy Carter

RE: Hot time and PG&E at it again.

I hope there were no injuries or fatalities. Do you think there will be any investigation report issued for this accident?

RE: Hot time and PG&E at it again.

Aluminum stator housings. Hadn't thought of that. That would explain it.

Yeah Bill! We were figuring they'd do that. "Your company reached tier 14 on the gas schedule sir."

jari001; No injuries that I know of. I doubt there will be much of a report since no one was injured. I believe it was the oil heater which essentially ran flames across pipes-in-a-can. I think the pipe finally pin-holed and the hot oil got involved. I'll let you know if I hear of a finding. I know they still can't clean the place up "because the investigation isn't complete".

Sad to see a hundred roasted solar panels.

Keith Cress
kcress - http://www.flaminsystems.com

RE: Hot time and PG&E at it again.

The question I would ask is why did the fire dept wait for, much less need PG&E to respond? I would say your blaming PG&E is misguided.

RE: Hot time and PG&E at it again.

From his original post, it sounded like PG&E was on the scene right away. I don't think the emergency responders were waiting for PG&E to do something but rather mistakenly assumed PG&E were doing the correct thing when tasked with "helping".

Andrew H.

RE: Hot time and PG&E at it again.

They would know if the PG&E workers shut off gas to the building because they would be waiting at the shut-off; and since the gas shut-off doesn't require any tech to do so, the FD should have shut it off themselves if they'd done the prep work.

RE: Hot time and PG&E at it again.

These should be mandated: Fire Safety Gas Shut-off Valves.

"Operation: The valve is held open by a stretched wire containing a fusible link. When the temperature rises above 165°F, the link will melt and the tension of the internal spring closes the valve."

RE: Hot time and PG&E at it again.

I agree with CWB1 and 3DDave, this is not a PG&E problem. In order any of the following could have shut off the gas, literally any mine personnel, any first responder, and any PG&E responder.

Mike Lambert

RE: Hot time and PG&E at it again.

Why does PG&E take the cake on so much? I worked with along side some ex-PG&E employees and it left me wondering if the company had been stripped of all its expertise.

RE: Hot time and PG&E at it again.

Good points all. I'd have also expected the FD to have one of the hundred guys bother to check the gas valve. Not that I think you should be patting PG&E on the back. What about the power? That was a major fail too. And no, I don't think you want the FD cutting 300kVA service lines with a limb lopper.

Keith Cress
kcress - http://www.flaminsystems.com

RE: Hot time and PG&E at it again.

If you're certified as a firefighter by a US regulating authority (in California it's the State Fire Marshal), the governing document is NFPA 1001. Within this standard, an entire section is dedicated to understanding building utilities, including a section addressing control of fuel gas.

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