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Another gas explosion lawsuit filed

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Another lawsuit has been filed over last year's massive gas line explosion in Sissonville.

Paul and Conda Beaver, who live at 10178 Derricks Creek Road in Sissonville, filed suit Thursday in Kanawha County Circuit Court against NiSource and its subsidiary, Columbia Gas Transmission.

No one was killed or seriously injured, but the Dec. 11 explosion and blaze destroyed houses and sent flames shooting nearly 100 feet into the air on both sides of Interstate 77, melting asphalt and guardrails.

The blast occurred on a segment of a 20-inch natural gas transmission line that was installed in 1967, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

The day of the blast, Conda Beaver received a call from her daughter about a huge fire. She wanted to know where the car keys were so she could get out of the area, according to the lawsuit.

"Before Conda Beaver could tell her daughter where the keys were the cell phone went dead at which time Conda Beaver believed her daughter and granddaughter might have been dead or received injuries and certainly in grave danger."

The Beavers headed to the house. On the way, according to the complaint, an emergency responder who asked where they lived stopped them.

The responder said "he was so sorry ma'am, but everything in that area is gone.

"Conda Beaver became physically ill and [she and her husband] suffered severe emotional distress. They could see the flames ahead shooting high into the sky and could hear the roar," the lawsuit states.

The Beavers, represented by Marvin Masters, suffered severe mental anguish, among other things, and their property was damaged and diminished in value, the lawsuit claims.

The couple alleges that companies and others, including maintenance technicians named in the suit, didn't properly maintain the transmission pipeline that ruptured.

NiSource said in a statement Friday that it had settled lawsuits with and provided compensation to more than 40 families impacted by the explosion. It also said the company took immediate action after the blast and ensured things like housing and food were provided for those affected.

"As we have since the moment this incident occurred, we are committed to working with those families in a fair and reasonable manner," the company said in the statement.

The case has been assigned to Kanawha Circuit Judge Charles King.

Last month, six of seven other separate lawsuits filed in Kanawha County over the blast were settled for undisclosed amounts.

Only a lawsuit filed by Sissonville resident Margaret Johnson remains. Mediation in that case has been unsuccessful, her attorney, Bobby Warner, previously said.

Johnson's lawsuit says she was sitting in her home at 7345 Sissonville Dr. when the explosion occurred.

"Feeling the heat from the flames and seeing the flames around her home soon after the loud boom of the explosion, [Johnson] ran from her home barefoot and in her pajamas fearing that she would be killed if she remained in the home," that suit states.

The heat from the blast blistered Johnson's feet and she injured her hand trying to escape in her car, her suit alleges.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.

 


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