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Community Crime

Please Don’t Blow Up Our Streets

One of our readers, Tyler, wrote in to let us know about an incident this evening.  According to our info contractors were performing unpermitted work and trying to rip out a gas line on the 600 block of 35th St.  The Richmond Fire Department told one neighbor “a lit cigarette could have sploded the block”.

A few notes:

  1. Always permit your work.  We know it can be a pain and the city can be slow but there is a good reason for it.  Building codes, safety issues, etc.  You can get more info here at the Planning and Development Review Website.
  2. Going through proper procedures helps keep neighbors from hating you (well they’ll have less of a reason)
  3. If you’re permitted, and something goes wrong (which it always does) at least your i’s are dotted and your t’s are crossed avoiding costly delays and fines.
  4. Call before you dig. – This is for ANY work you’re going to be doing.  Even digging deep fence posts could hit a utility line.


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SA Chaplin 11/30/2018 at 8:04 PM

Where to start . . . There is no way that a lit cigarette, a match or a properly struck flint could cause an explosion in the event of an above ground gas leak. The gas needs to be trapped (e.g., gas leak in a crawl space).

My suggestion —with regard to encouraging people to get permits— would be more in the nature of a carrot than a stick (especially when the stick is a wet noodle, like “gas explosions”). The City has a great tax abatement program, and they make it very easy to apply for it. If you are going to renovate a house, you (or your new buyer) will get a significant break on real estate taxes for many years if you apply for the tax abatement. So, get the building permit (it is pretty cheap — especially in comparison to other jurisdictions across the country) and, as a bonus, you can get a tax abatement with very little extra effort.

Lori Dachille
Lori Dachille 11/30/2018 at 8:06 PM

There are a few projects going on here on this block fortunately I didn’t have to leave my home but some of my neighbors were evacuated. the smell was strong.

D. Smith 12/01/2018 at 10:52 AM

Actually the work was permitted. The permit had fallen out of the window which caused everyone to jump to the wrong conclusion. Something fell off the roof and broke off the gas meter after workers had left for the day. I have spoken to the contractor several times. They do great work!

BAF 12/01/2018 at 11:26 AM

“Please Don’t Blow Up Our Streets”


Neighbor 12/01/2018 at 7:09 PM

This article is absolutely incorrect. A Permit was pulled for the work, it just fell out of the window, so everyone so quickly assumed there was no permit. Some debris fell off roof after workers were gone and broke the old fragile gas meter.

35th & M 12/03/2018 at 12:02 AM

The city web site says: “work was performed without demo permit , builder ripped gas service off the house and left the project without notifying DPU”

This is also what was told to neighbors on the block. Not sure it makes me feel any better to believe the quality of the work they are doing involves something falling and breaking the meter.

35th & M 12/03/2018 at 12:16 AM

City web site describes the violation as “wokk was performed without demo permit , builder ripped gas service off the house and left the project without notifying DPU” This is also what was told to neighbors by the Fire Dept/DPU during the event.

Not sure it makes me feel safer to hear that the quality of the contractors work involved something large enough to fall from the building to break the gas main.

tyler 12/03/2018 at 10:44 AM

The broken gas main was also found on the other side of the foundation of the site. This contradicts the idea that something fell on the meter, breaking it, while nobody was working on the site.

The contractor told DPU that no work was done on the house that day. However, building materials were delivered that day, and demolition work clearly done.

Lastly, the house was left open, and the 2nd-story patio left unsecured (hanging on the house with no supports.) As a result, the house has been condemned and no trespassing signs placed up.

What concerns me most of all is that, based off of the evidence, it seems that the people working on the house broke the gas main while they were on-site, and rather than calling it in, left. It should have been quickly apparent that there was a gas leak. The smell of natural gas was enough that neighbors weren’t permitted back into their homes until RFD had verified that natural gas was no longer present inside.

Dubois2 12/03/2018 at 10:54 AM

5 and 6 aren’t actually in conflict, if the contractor pulled a building permit but not a demo permit, and if they either dropped some stuff on the meter that “ripped it off the house” or if they, a worker or sub ripped it off in the course of their work.

Either way, it’s the gas meter. That’s where MISTAKES CANNOT BE MADE. I’m glad no one got hurt, and I have no doubt the fine is going to be big and nasty, as it should be.
And imho, “fragile old gas meter” doesn’t make a bit of difference. Responsibility remains with the contractor.

And lastly, any debris that did this could have just as easily fallen on the fragile old head of a nice grandmother just admiring the renovations, or reminiscing about times gone by in that house, in the quiet of the afterhours jobsite. Just saying.


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