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UGI Says PA Gas Explosion Caused by 'Human Error'

A contractor working on a natural gas meter in an Allentown, PA, home on Saturday apparently removed the wrong fitting, which allowed gas to escape and lead to an explosion that leveled three homes and damaged a fourth, according to UGI Utilities. No one was seriously injured, according to authorities.

UGI Utilities spokesman Tony Cox said the accident apparently was caused by "human error."

The technician involved in the accident worked for Liberty Lake, WA-based Itron, which contracted with UGI for the deployment of an Itron Mobile AMR system. Installing a gas AMR module does not require changing the meter or shutting off the gas. However, as part of the deployment, UGI contracted with Itron to replace and upgrade some gas meters. Itron subcontracted the installation and meter change work to TeamsTs, a Richmond, KY-based company. All TeamsTs field employees assigned to the UGI project completed a TeamsTs training course, as well as UGI's Operator Qualification Training for meter installation.

"We want to express our sympathy and support for the families who were affected by this incident," said Itron CEO LeRoy Nosbaum. "We have already engaged our insurance company on their behalf and additionally we are providing immediate assistance to help these families during a distressing time in their lives, especially with the holidays approaching."

In a statement, Itron said, "At this time it appears that on Saturday afternoon a TeamsTs employee inadvertently loosened a fitting while performing work on a residential gas meter. This allowed a gas leak, which the subcontractor was unable to stop. Realizing the situation, he immediately called his supervisor and, with the help of the homeowner, evacuated the house and neighboring houses."

Itron and TeamsTs are working with UGI and are fully cooperating with the investigators on this incident and are also working closely with the local Red Cross to ensure that the immediate needs of the effected families are being addressed."

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