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City helps Readville couple who lost home in explosion as mayor bans contractor

Posted by Metro Desk  November 5, 2010 05:27 PM

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Mayor Menino today banned the company blamed for the gas explosion that destroyed a home in his Readville neighborhood from doing any more work with all city agencies at least until an investigation into the incident is finished, his spokeswoman said today.

Menino spokeswoman Dot Joyce said Menino ordered the ban after meeting with Boston Water and Sewer Commission staffers today, and in direct response to the explosion Wednesday that leveled the house at 17 Danny Road. No one was injured.

The ban on Defelice Corp. of Dracut covers all city agencies and will remain in place until the Department of Public Utilities and other agencies complete their investigation into the gas explosion, Joyce said. The city will then decide whether to rehire Defelice.

Defelice was replacing an underground water main for the when a worker cut into a gas line servicing a the home, according to Boston fire officials and the utility company, NSTAR. The jostling loosened gas fittings, allowing gas to seep inside, which then found an ignition source and detonated, officials have said.

But lawyers for Defelice said this afternoon that no one from the city or the sewer commission has contacted them or Defelice, formally notifying them to halt work in the Readville neighborhood.

"Neither me nor Defelice Corporation has been advised by the mayor's office or the awarding authority – in this instance the Boston Water and Sewer Commission – that they have been banned,''' said Andrew Daniels, Defelice's Boston attorney.

Daniels also said that Defelice had complied with all safety rules, and had alerted both DigSafe and NSTAR they would be digging into Danny and Reynold roads. He
said the path of the gas main on Danny Road was marked, and a service line 45 feet from the intersection of the two streets was marked.

But no one marked the line heading into 17 Danny Road, which was located 12 feet from the intersection. "The service connection 12 feet from the intersection was not marked,'' Daniels said.

NSTAR has said Defelice asked DigSafe to mark Reynold Road, but not Danny Road.

Today, about a dozen Boston city officials converged on the neighborhood to talk with residents and, in particular, help the couple who owned the 50-year-old ranch house that exploded, Bob Hauser and Mike Burns.

On Thursday night, Hauser was among 70 residents of the Readville neighborhood who confronted the mayor at the Hyde Park Municipal Building about the circumstances leading to the explosion and implored the city to take action.

City officials seemed eager to do what they could to help. Standing near the rubble of the couple's house, a giant pile of wood planks, pipes, bricks, and shattered walls, Vincent G. Mannering gave Hauser and Burns a $5,000 check to cover expenses while they try to rebuild their lives.

``Oh my goodness, that's incredible,'' said Hauser. ``We thank you so much.''

Michael J. Galvin, the city's chief of public property, introduced the couple to a worker from a Jay-Mor, a private demolition company that the city has hired.

Galvin said the company will help the men pick through the rubble to look for keepsakes they hope to recover, including a gold ring that had belonged to Burns's grandfather and later his father.

``You want to start tonight? We'll start tonight,'' Galvin told the couple. ``You want to start tomorrow? We'll start tomorrow.''

As of late today, no decision has been made on when the cleanup will begin.

Commission spokesman Thomas Bagley said this afternoon that Defelice was expected to complete the installation of a fire hydrant in the neighborhood, do some paving work, and then pull its workers and equipment out of the area.

He said Defelice has completed about 40 percent of a $2.1 million contract. Now, the commission will find a new contractor to complete the work, Bagley said.

"After today, he is no longer working on the job,'' Bagley said. "It's not clear who will be stepping in to replace Defelice.

Bagley said the current contract is the third between the commission and Defelice and that in total, Defelice has been paid about $5 million. He said it is not clear what, if anything, the commission will have to pay Defelice now that it has been ordered off the job by Menino.

The Globe reported on last night's meeting, which also attended by other city officials.

Originally published on the blog MetroDesk.

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