Westerville, Ohio -- Reports of lightning-related fires and gas leaks in at least a dozen states have sparked concerns about the use of flexible gas lines made of corrugated stainless steel tubing.
The same type of lightning strikes is suspected of causing fires in four homes in central Ohio over a stormy 12-hour period this summer.
Genoa Township Fire Chief Gary Honeycutt said he believes lightning struck at or near the homes, and the electrical charge traveled along the plastic-coated metal tubing, known as CSST, before jumping to a less resistant pathway nearby such as a metal ventilation duct.
It then punctured a hole the size of a pencil tip in the tubing and created a gas leak that could ignite, he said.Reports of such fires and gas leaks, from states such as Florida, which has a high occurrence of lightning strikes, to those where strikes are less frequent, have led to lawsuits, studies and efforts to better track the incidents.
Manufacturers defend CSST, which has become increasingly common in new homes since it was introduced domestically more than two decades ago, and fire officials and researchers are trying to determine whether to blame a faulty product, unsafe installation or something else.
A class-action lawsuit filed in Arkansas against several manufacturers claimed the tubing posed an unreasonable risk of fire from lightning strikes, leading to a 2006 settlement that was worth up to nearly $29 million, according to a copy of the settlement agreement provided by an attorney not affiliated with the case. Lawyers involved in the case did not respond to messages.
This article appeared on page A - 14 of the San Francisco Chronicle
If you are unsure whether your home contains CSST, Contact a Columbus Certified Home Inspector to evaluate your home and any potential safety risks.