The PUCO has ordered Dominion East Ohio pay a $500,000 fine and take steps to ensure compliance with federal natural gas pipeline safety standards following last year's fires and explosions.
FAIRPORT HARBOR, Ohio - A year ago Tuesday, the Lake County village of Fairport Harbor woke up to a series of fires caused by a gas leak.
It started at about 6:37 a.m. on Jan. 25 and by the time it was over, 11 homes were severely damaged and 150 homes needed repair to appliances. Several houses were completely destroyed. According to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, the "major gas leak" resulted in $1,300,000 in damage.
[Photo gallery: Fairport Harbor gas leak prompts evacuations http://5.wews.com/kOa ]
Crews from 13 local fire departments worked to control the fires, as Fairport Harbor residents were evacuated to a nearby senior center. A majority of the damage was on High Street and no one was injured on that cold January morning.
Dominion East Ohio Gas Company said an unusually high amount of pressure in the natural gas lines caused pilot lights to flare up, catching buildings on fire and causing small explosions.
"I thought somebody was snow blowing," said Fairport Harbor resident Dana Kirk about the noise coming from her gas heater. "Next thing I know, there's three-foot flames shooting out." [Click the audio clips below to listen to the 911 calls]
In a 64-page report released on Monday , PUCO details the problems with Dominion's pipelines and regulator stations. The report contains photos, diagrams and the results of tests on key pieces of equipment. The conclusion: Dominion broke state regulations. The company will be fined $500,000.
In February 2011, residents began filing class-action lawsuits against Dominion. The lawsuits claim that improper maintenance put resident's lives on the line.
WEB EXTRA: Click on the play button below to hear the 911 calls