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Home explosion offers deadly reminder to check on gas lines, California utility says

See the scene of gas leak explosion in Murrieta, California

An explosion from a damaged natural gas line in Murrieta, California killed at least one and injured others on July 15, 2019.
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An explosion from a damaged natural gas line in Murrieta, California killed at least one and injured others on July 15, 2019.

An explosion Monday that killed one and injured 15 may have been avoidable, California utility officials say.

Records show a contractor at the home in Murrieta, between Los Angeles and San Diego, failed to call 811 to have underground utility lines marked before starting work, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“No matter what you’re doing, if you’re digging, please call 811,” said Cedric Williams of Southern California Gas Co., according to the publication. “Not calling 811 makes it dangerous for everyone.”

The home exploded just past noon after utility workers and firefighters responded to reports of a damaged gas line, NBC News reported. A utility worker died and 15 others, including three firefighters, suffered injuries.

The blast destroyed the house and hurled one person across the street into a parked trailer, The Riverside Press-Enterprise reported.

Four other homes in the neighborhood are uninhabitable, while two have moderate damage, according to the publication.

The national 811 number routes callers to a call center in their state. Homeowners and contractors in some states also are able to submit tickets online.

The service alerts utility companies and public agencies to mark underground lines, such as gas lines, where digging will be performed.

First responders work the scene after a possible gas explosion injured multiple people at Fountain's Plaza in Plantation, Florida on Saturday, July 6, 2019.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.
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