Pittsburg, PA- Residents in one Kilbuck Township neighborhood said they called Columbia Gas in February to report the odor of natural gas outside their homes, but they said nothing was done.
Dawn Bairhalter lives in that neighborhood.
She said, “We continued to smell it and this was when you would walk outside mostly.”
Bairhalter called the gas company “They came up and they checked, but didn’t find anything,” she said.
Over the years, she and others occasionally smelled natural gas.
In February, it was so strong her neighbor called Columbia Gas.
This time gas crews found a leak.
Bill Spolar also lives in the neighborhood.
He said, “I says when are you going to get that fixed? She says, ‘oh probably sometime in the spring.’ I says what happens if the house blows up or something like that and she says ‘oh that ain’t going to happen.’ “
Neighbors became even more anxious after a house exploded in Plum.
A natural gas explosion rocked a home killing a man and injuring his 4-year-old granddaughter. Investigators said a cracked pipe was to blame.
Bairhalter said the explosion scared her. “It made me think that it was something I should get on. You know it was something that I would think they might want to fix a little sooner than later.” Bairhalter said.
After the explosion Bairhalter called the gas company again.
Columbia sent out an inspector, but Bairhalter said she didn’t feel it needed to be fixed right away and said it could be three months before it was fixed.
Bairhalter called Target 11 for help. Target 11 investigator Rick Earle contacted Columbia and within days the problem was fixed.
Matt Pitzarella from Columbia Gas said, “Well the one thing that I do know from looking back at her records, we did not find gas. It had not been flagged until the most recent incident whenever she had called you.”
Pitzarella said bad weather delayed repairs, but crews got to it as soon as they could.
He said he believed the leak was due to corrosion and that Columbia is in the process of replacing a number of old lines. He said if someone smells natural gas, call the gas company immediately.
As for Bairhalter, she said, “I think you guys (Channel 11) coming out made the difference. I don’t think it would have been acted on so quickly.”