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Third Degree Burns and Smoke Inhalation, gas explosion

A woman was home in her apartment with her 4 children (all under the age of 5) when an enormous explosion occurred. The fire Marshall determined that the gas line in back of the stove had corroded and cracked. Gas escaped through the crack. From a physics standpoint the concentration of gas within the apartment had to fall within a very tight parameter in order to pose a danger of explosion. If the concentration of the gas was to little there would be no explosion. Conversely, if the concentration was too great there would be no explosion.

As it turned out the family had recently moved into the apartment. They were not familiar with the neighborhood. They did not speak English and therefore they did not go out of the apartment. It had been unseasonably warm. They were using a device that blew air across ice to cool the apartment. The windows had been closed. With the windows and doors closed the gas accumulated in the apartment. Once the concentration of the natural gas in the apartment reached the combustible level all that was required was a spark. Merely turning on a light, using a cell phone or the pilot light was all that was necessary to ignite the ticking bomb.

Fortunately we (Kramer & Pollack, LLP) were retained within a few days after the explosion. We had a team of cause and origin experts in the building 10 days after the explosion. We hired investigators to canvas the neighborhood, interview tenants of the building and obtain statements of anyone with any knowledge of the incident. No expense was spared. What we found through our investigation was that there had indeed been complaints to the gas company as well as the super and management of the building prior to the explosion. We found a building tenant who said that the gas company had been in her apartment 3 times in 2 months. Despite the 3 visits from the gas company she still smelled gas in her apartment (which was 2 floors above our client’s apartment).

The explosion was so powerful it knocked down walls, blew out windows and melted televisions. The mom was admitted to the burn center for treatment of her third degree burns and smoke inhalation. She was on a ventilator and in a medically induced coma until she expired 3 and 1/2 weeks after the explosion.

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