With home-improvement projects on the rise as of late, it’s all the more important to take safety precautions. One wrong cut, one dig in the wrong spot, and you can have a disaster on your hands.

The Murrieta explosion is a prime example of what happens when you move hastily. On July 21, 2019, a Murrieta house fire explosion brought attention to the importance of locating all utility lines before digging for construction.

Keep reading to learn about the Murrieta gas explosion cause and why calling before you dig is a law.

What Is the Murrieta Explosion?

On July 21, 2019, a Murrieta, California a contractor was preparing to install solar panels in a home. The home had been purchased within the last few months, and the homeowners were completing some renovations to improve the property.

Unfortunately, the contractor did not have the utility lines marked before he began the digging project. He bypassed code 4216, a California law that requires individuals to call locators before they dig. As a result, the contractor ruptured a gas line.

Even though the contractor called the gas company, the damage had been done. The Southern California Gas Co. arrived promptly and began to turn off the gas, but too much gas had leaked, and an explosion demolished the home and damaged neighborhood homes.

One utility worker died in the explosion, and an additional 15 people were injured.

Had the contractor called 811 before he dug, this tragedy would not have happened.

What Is 811?

The number 811 should be standard protocol for all contractors and homeowners when they’re working on a digging project. Each state has its own laws and procedures, but they all involve one thing: call before you dig.

In the same way that you’d call 911 when you have an emergency, you should call 811 before you put a shovel into the ground. This number ultimately saves you time. Plus, it’s illegal to dig without calling 811 first.

When you call 811, the operator will ask you several questions about your digging project. They will want to know exactly where you will be digging. The operator then contacts the local utilities, and the utilities send out a locator, someone who will put flags or spray paint on the parts of the ground where their particular lines are.

When you look at a construction area, you should see a variety of small, colored flags or spray-painted lines on the ground. These indicate where lines are, giving you a bit of a superpower to see underground. You can then avoid those areas when you dig and thereby avoid a disaster like the Murrieta explosion.

What Does 811 Locate?

The locators will mark all public utility lines or all the lines that the utility company owns and maintains. You will need to locate your own private utility lines.

Public lines usually end at the meter in your backyard. Private lines will go from the meter to your home. To locate private lines before you dig, you need to contact a company that specializes in private utility location.

Locate First, Dig Second

Do not repeat the Murrieta explosion. Call 811 before you dig. If you have utility lines that 811 does not locate, contact us.

We are a private utility locator service, and we can find your lines so you can dig with confidence. For all your location needs, contact us.