NTSB: We 'suspect' a gas leak in Gate City apartment explosion - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

NTSB: We 'suspect' a gas leak in Gate City apartment explosion

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NTSB investigator Ravi Chhatre. Source: WBRC video NTSB investigator Ravi Chhatre. Source: WBRC video
The site of the explosion Wednesday evening. Source: WBRC video The site of the explosion Wednesday evening. Source: WBRC video
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

A National Transportation Safety Board investigator says their preliminary investigation suggests the Gate City apartment explosion was caused by natural gas.

"We're here because we suspect it's a gas leak," investigator Ravi Chhatre said.

Chhatre says that Wednesday, investigators have located where the suspected leak is in the pipes. He says the NTSB will ship an approximately 8 foot section of pipe to their lab in Washington, D.C. to be analyzed.

He stressed that while the initial investigation suggests a gas leak, their final lab work will reveal the cause of the explosion.

Chhatre says this pipe was installed around 1951 and is a 2.25-inch cast iron pipe. He described it as a main pipe that distributes natural gas throughout a neighborhood.

Chhatre adds that investigators have noticed some other small leaks in the neighborhood. They will also be taking part of another pipe to their lab for analysis.

Once the NTSB completes their fieldwork, Chhatre says they will move on to interviewing neighbors, Alagasco employees, rescue workers and anyone else they "believe might aid us in finding out what happened."

Some residents have told FOX6 News that they reported possible gas leaks in the past, but nothing was done about them.

A few people tell FOX6 News that they are still afraid to go into their apartments but they are thankful a federal agency is helping in the investigation.

"I would just hope they make sure they do their job and make sure everyone out here is safe," Tiffany Armstrong said.

Chhatre says the investigation could take between 9 months and a year to complete. He says crews will stay here until they feel it's safe for the residents.

Please check back to MyFoxal.com and watch FOX6 News at 10 for updates on this developing story.

You can watch on air, online at http://foxalabamalive.com and through the WBRC News app.

Copyright 2013 WBRC. All rights reserved.

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