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TN: Faulty Electrical wiring sparks $75K Apartment Fire

Memphis, TN: Faulty electrical wiring started a fire Wednesday that damaged four apartments and forced three families from their homes, according to investigators.

The flames started just after 4:30 p.m. in the Cypress Garden Apartments, 1209 Springdale St. The fire started in an apartment’s bedroom wall, but three other units ended up being damaged during the electrical fire, according to emergency crews.

No one was injured during the fire, but the damage was so extensive that the Red Cross had to provide shelter for several families.

Investigators say the fire caused about $75,000 in damage.

Story via WMCTV.com

4 dead after Boat Electrocutions

Missouri and Tennessee:  Four children are dead after a pair of separate electrocution accidents on lakes in Missouri and Tennessee.

Nathan Lynam, 11, died Thursday night at Children’s Hospital in Knoxville, Tenn., Grainger County Sheriff Scott Layel told The Associated Press.

On Wednesday afternoon, Lynam and Noah Winstead, 10, were swimming between two houseboats at Cherokee Lake outside Knoxville when they were electrocuted. Winstead died at the scene; Lynam was resuscitated Wednesday but died Thursday.

Five adults who jumped in the water to help were shocked as well.

Investigators ruled out electrical problems at the dock and have focused their attention on frayed wiring aboard the houseboat the boys were next to when they were shocked, Grainger County Sheriff Scott Layel told the Knoxville News Sentinel.

The houseboat belongs to Nate Lynam’s grandfather, Michael Voccola, 58, of Morristown, said Matt Cameron, spokesman for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The boys were swimming near a metal ladder on the boat when the electrical current apparently hit them.

In the Missouri accident, also Wednesday, Alexandra Anderson, 13, and her brother Brayden, 8, were killed while swimming near a private dock at Lake of the Ozarks around noon, according to published reports.

Adults standing on a dock heard screaming and jumped in the water. Police say those who jumped in felt electricity and cut off power to the dock. The adults performed CPR on the children but could not revive them, according to a LakeNewsOnline.com report.

The preliminary investigation indicates improper wiring, and the dock had no ground fault circuit interrupter, which allowed electricity to travel into the water, according to the report. Sources could be a boat lift and/or a pump for a water slide. The Missouri State Highway Patrol Water Patrol Division is investigating.

Story via tradeonlytoday.com

Electrical Arc from Exposed Wire Likely Cause of Ignition Source that Killed Worker

December 1, 2011 Leave a comment
Tennessee – A Gallatin metal powders factory where five workers died in flash fires earlier this year said in a statement Wednesday that it is improving safety at the plant.

The Hoeganaes Corp. issued its statement hours after the release of a highly critical investigative report by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board. The federal agency found that airborne iron dust at Hoeganaes ignited and created a fireball, burning workers in separate accidents in January, March and May of this year.

Board members said the accidents were preventable.

Hoeganaes said Wednesday that the company is developing what it called “an industry leading powder metal dust management system.” The statement said this and other actions are being taken “to ensure that similar accidents will not happen again.”

The Cinnaminson, N.J.,-based company produces atomized steel and iron powders for the automotive and other industries with facilities in the U.S., Germany, China and Romania. It is a subsidiary of GKN, a British multinational engineering company.

The Safety Board presented the results of its investigation into the three accidents during a public meeting in Gallatin where the widow of one of the workers killed at the Hoeganaes plant spoke on a panel.

Chris Sherburne, whose husband Wiley Sherburne died in January, told the board, “I’ve been asked to explain how our lives have been affected. I don’t know if I can actually do that.

“Everything changed that morning. We walked into the hospital and the first thing the doctors told us was that he was burned on 95 percent of his body and they didn’t think he was going to make it. There’s nothing you can say to that.”

She said the five workers who were killed have, all told, left several children behind.

“Everyday something they say or something they do – it’s heartbreaking. And the questions they ask, there’s just no answer,” she said.

Safety board investigators at the meeting blamed the accidents on a thick accumulation of combustible iron dust throughout the facility, and said the likely ignition source for the January accident that killed Wiley Sherburne and a co-worker was an electrical arc from exposed wiring that was not properly grounded.

In a subsequent accident in March that caused one injury, the dust may have been ignited by an open-flamed furnace. In another accident in May that killed three workers, hydrogen gas leaking from a corroded pipe exploded and then ignited falling dust.

Hoeganaes said in its statement that the Gallatin plant, which employs about 180 people, temporarily ceased production after the May 27 explosion and the company hired two outside firms to undertake a comprehensive safety review. Some of the recommendations being implemented include an upgrade of the electrical systems and replacement of the gas and air supply system. The company also says it is upgrading “gas management and hydrogen detection systems.”

Investigators criticized management for having no regular maintenance and inspection of the hydrogen lines and no procedure for how to deal with suspected leaks.

The safety board also found that multiple reports of earlier small fires, and even a deadly fire in 1996 at a New Jersey facility, did not spur Hoeganaes to try to mitigate the hazard. And it found workers were given no trainingto help them understand the dangers they faced.

According to the company’s statement, it is undertaking “full and comprehensive retraining of all employees.”

Investigators also faulted the Gallatin Fire Department for not recognizing that the iron dust accumulated on surfaces around the plant were a fire hazard when it inspected two weeks before the May accident.

According to the Hoeganaes statement, “The Company deeply regrets the loss of life at Gallatin” and is “taking every measure to ensure that Gallatin operates to world class standards.”

At the safety board meeting, investigator David Chicca was asked about measures Hoeganaes has taken to improve safety.

Chicca said during his last tour in August, the company was vacuuming up the dust and had made some effort to seal the dust collection system but had not yet done enough to guarantee that there would not be further accidents.

Story via ClaimsJournal.com

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Investigation Revelas Fatal Fire Caused by Electrical Problem

November 18, 2010 Leave a comment

FLORENCE, TENNESSEE – State Fire Marshal officials say wiring problems caused the fire last week that resulted in the death of a Florence man.

Assistant State Fire Marshal Scott Pilgreen said investigators ruled the fire was accidental and likely started from a receptacle in the living room of the house at 314 Patton St. in east Florence.

“We thought from the get go that it was likely some type of electrical problem,” Florence Fire Marshal Jeffrey Perkins said.

An autopsy determined Glen Marvin Hanback Sr., 54, died from smoke inhalation. Hanback’s body was found in the kitchen as firefighters battled the early morning fire Nov. 12.

The fire started in the living room, which is where neighbors said Hanback usually slept. Family members said he lived alone.

“The fire was so bad in the living room that it burned through the roof,” Perkins said. “As we got inside looking around, the attic throughout the house was charred. If the firefighters had not gotten (the fire) knocked down as soon as they did, the whole roof likely would have come down.”

It took firefighters 35 minutes to get the fire under control.

The fire was reported at 4:16 a.m. by a Florence police officer who was on patrol and saw flames in the house.

Sgt. Jeff Stanfield said when he arrived at the house, about two minutes after the call, flames had already broken through the roof and the windows.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than 67,000 structure fires a year are caused by some type of electrical problem. Home electrical wiring causes twice as many fires as electrical appliances, according to the fire administration.

A report by fire administration notes most electrical fires result from problems with faulty electrical outlets and old wiring. Also, most of the residential fires start in a bedroom.

“This is a very tragic accident,” Perkins said of the east Florence fire.

The fire fatality is the fifth in the Shoals this year and the first in Florence since May 24, 2006.

A mother and her adult son died in a Muscle Shoals residential fire in October, while a Colbert County man died in a Spring Valley fire in May. A Tuscumbia man died in an apartment fire in March.

Story via Times Daily

Electrical Fire Ignites Professional Building in TN

October 19, 2010 Leave a comment

KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE – Fire crews were able to put out an electrical fire that sparked Saturday on the top floor of a six-story Knoxville building.

Knoxville Fire Department officials said the fire was reported just after 7 a.m. at the Newland Professional Building. That’s in the 2000 block of Laurel Avenue at Fort Sanders Medical.

Independent contractors were working on a re-wiring project when an electrical panel sparked and ignited areas inside the building.

KFD officials said there were only Fort Sanders security personnel and contractors in the building at the time.

An electrical worker was sent to UT Medical Center for smoke inhalation and a firefighter was treated at the scene for heat exhaustion. No other injuries were reported.

The fire was out by about 8:30. Crews let the building clear of smoke and then checked for hot spots to prevent any potential fire hazards.

Story via WATE.com

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Electrical Fire Claims Lives of Mother & Son in TN

October 19, 2010 Leave a comment

MUSCLE SHOALS, TENNESSEE – The cause of a house fire Saturday that killed a woman and her son was electrical, the state fire marshal said Monday.

“We can’t pinpoint the exact origin where the fire started or what it started from, but from the investigation we have determined that the most probable cause is electrical,” State Fire Marshal Ed Paulk said.

Nina Tackett, 70, and Kenny Logan, 48, died inside their Wisconsin Avenue residence after they were overcome by smoke and fire, officials said.

The fire was reported at 3:12 a.m. According to Muscle Shoals Fire Marshal Donald Ray Coons, more than half of the house was on fire when the first firefighters arrived.

Coons said the fire spread quickly, but firefighters got it under control shortly after 4 a.m.

Coons said fire investigators were able to determine that the fire started in the southeast corner of the house, which is a living room/den.

“There was a bay there, at the front of the house, and it started somewhere around that bay window area of the room,” he said.

The bodies of the two victims were found at the rear of the house.

Officials said Tackett’s body was in the kitchen in front of the refrigerator while Logan was near the back door.

Friends said Tackett’s and Logan’s bedrooms were on the western side of the house.

Coons said this is the first fire fatality in the city in more than 20 years.

“This affects us; our thoughts and prayers have been with this family,” Coons said. “It’s been on my mind all weekend. All I could think about was what caused it and could it have been prevented.

“It makes you want to work harder to teach fire prevention safety to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“The last thing we want to have to hear when we get to a fire is there is someone in the house. That’s why we teach and preach fire prevention to keep this from happening.”

Officials said family told them there were working smoke detectors in the house.

Story via TimesDaily.com

PG and E electrical work caused valve failure prior to pipe blast

October 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Knoxville, TN – In a preliminary report on its investigation into the fatal explosion of
a Pacific Gas and Electric natural gas transmission pipeline, the US National
Transportation Safety Board confirmed Wednesday that work the utility was
conducting at a terminal upstream of the blast caused a regulating valve to
fail on the line.

     The NTSB noted that just before the September 9 blast and fire, PG&E was
working on its uninterruptible power supply system at the Milpitas Terminal,
located about 39 miles southeast of the accident site along its
30-inch-diameter Line 132.

     During that work, the power supply from the system to the supervisory
control and data acquisition system malfunctioned, which caused the valve to
move from partially open to fully open. The pressure on the line then
increased to 386 psig. An over-protection valve, which was pneumatically
activated, then maintained the pressure at 386 psig.

     NTSB said the maximum operating pressure on Line 132 was 375 psig, but
NTSB noted PG&E said the maximum allowable operating pressure was 400 psig.

     Downstream of the blast site, the SCADA system at the Martin Station
exceeded 375 psig and rose to about 390 psig by 6 pm local time, NTSB said. At
6:08 pm it dropped to 386 psig. At 6:11 pm, the time of the explosion, the
pressure at the Martin Station dropped to 361.4 psig, and then to 289.9 psig a
minute later. The amount of gas released during the incident was 47.6 million
standard cubic feet, NTSB said.

     PG&E had previously confirmed that it was performing the work at
Milpitas, but had not released further details as to effects on its system.
The blast and resulting fire resulted in eight fatalities, more than 50
injuries and 37 homes destroyed.

      The preliminary report does not reach any conclusions about the cause
of the rupture, but it does list the state of PG&E’s system before and after
the incident and details laboratory work performed so far on the section of
damaged pipeline the agency removed from the site.

Story via Platts.com