Fire Leads to Town of Palm Beach Groundbreaking Agreement
On a November evening last year, Margaret and Allan Scherer discovered a strange leakage from a pipe leading into the garage of their Town of Palm Beach home. Not even a minute later, their three-car garage burst into a fit of flames. The explosion caused by a blend of natural gas and the telephone line, caused an underground chemical reaction.
The 6.5 million dollar home on Primavera Way in the Town of Palm Beach was almost destroyed. Due to the nature of the fire, it took three fire departments and around 54 emergency personnel to find a way to contain the fire and safely contain the rampant gas line according to the Palm Beach Daily News.
Working with the Florida Public Utilities, repairing the rogue gas line took between 4-5 hours from initial contact to confirmation that the gas line had been shut down completely. Once that happened the fire departments could completely put out the fire. Unfortunately it was too late for the Scherer’s home, cars, and most of their sacred personal belongings.
The Florida Public Utilities had been replacing the underground older gas pipes on the Island but had not made it to the Primavera neighborhood off of Cocoanut Road. The same week of the fire, they replaced all of them in the neighborhood to prepare for another destructive fire. FPU had to take great lengths to investigate what specifically went wrong.The main reason the explosion occurred as released by the Palm Beach Fire Department at the time was a merging of the phone and gas line underground. FPU did not have information quickly enough to be able to shut it off. The Scherer’s paid one of the worst prices for an uncommon dangerous situation. Demands by local firefighters across Palm Beach County have struck up discussion with FPU.
Working closely with the Town of Palm Beach Fire Department, they have been able to explore options to secure the lines for future gas leak fires. The wasted hours that could have helped save portions of the Scherer’s home and vehicles are what they want to protect residents from.
An agreement was finally reached this month; fire departments will have access to the digital maps of underground natural gas lines provided by the Florida Public Utilities. This information will give a clear chart of the neighborhood gas lines, and for future fires can isolate it quickly and clamp the rogue pipe.
Public Safety Director, Kirk Blouin, signed the pact agreement with FPU this month. This does not make the maps open for public use, only for firefighters. With the Town of Palm Beach groundbreaking agreement, hopefully no more explosive gas leak fires will occur, and residents can rest easy that their firefighters have the solution if it happens again.