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Gas company surveying area surrounding Wednesday’s home explosion

The official cause of a home explosion at 727 Wells St. in Morgantown Wednesday morning is still under investigation by the West Virginia State Fire Marshal with cooperation from Hope Gas. 

While the cause is being determined, Hope Gas crews have been conducting surveys of the area to search for leaks or potential hazards. 

According to Hope Gas communications official Christine Mitchell, after such an incident, protocol calls for surveys of the immediate area.  

Crews walk the line and search for leaks using extremely sensitive instruments that detect very small quantities of natural gas.  

“Our employees are well-trained in leak detection, and our instruments are calibrated daily,” Mitchell said.  

The Wells Street area was last surveyed in September 2021, Mitchell said, and no leaks were found. 

Immediately following Wednesday’s incident, Mitchell said Hope Gas surveyed all of Wells Street and the adjacent streets.  

“No leaks were discovered on the main line. We have found a few minor non-hazardous leaks on service lines while performing our review,” she said.  

At one home, crews found a leak on the interior gas line and shut the gas service off until the homeowners make the necessary repairs.  Once the repairs are made and properly tested, gas service will be reinitiated. 

Mitchell said the cause of these leaks is unknown, but it has not been ruled out that they could have been caused by Wednesday’s incident. 

“Even though there have been no hazardous conditions identified, in an abundance of caution, Hope is going to evaluate and repair some of the leaks that were identified on exterior piping on an expedited schedule,” Mitchell said. 

Mitchell said they will be in communication with residents on Wells Street with information on the planned repairs. 

In the interest of public safety, Mitchell thought it important to share that natural gas is odorless.  

“We add an odorant, called mercaptan, so that homeowners can easily detect any leaks,” she said. “Mercaptan has an extraordinarily strong, distinct sulfur-like smell. It is often compared to a “rotten egg smell.” 

Any time a gas odor is detected, residents should call the Hope Gas emergency number — 800-934-3187 — immediately to report it, so crews can be sent to investigate.