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Utility worker killed, 15 injured in gas line explosion

A Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) employee was killed and 15 other people were injured in Murrieta amid a gas explosion at a home where work was being done. Three firefighters with Murrieta Fire and Rescue were among those injured. It appears that a damaged gas line caused the explosion and fire.

Although the investigation is ongoing, an official with SoCalGas said they have no record that the contractor or anyone working on the home called their 811 line as state law requires so that buried gas lines could be marked before workers do any digging. He said, "No matter what you're doing, if you're digging, please call 811. Not calling 811 makes it dangerous for everyone."

The 31-year-old SoCalGas employee, who began his career with the company 11 years ago as a meter reader, was a lead construction technician on the project. One of his co-workers was hospitalized with injuries, but he survived. Besides the firefighters, the remainder of the people who suffered injuries were civilians.

The explosion displaced residents in nearby homes. Four homes are red-tagged, which means that it's unsafe to be inside them. One area resident told a local newspaper that he heard "[j]ust a huge, huge explosion and then I heard screams and went outside."

Laws like the one that mandates a call to the appropriate people when digging and construction work are being done around gas and electrical lines are in place to prevent tragic incidents like this one. If a loved one is injured or killed as the result of this kind of negligence, it's essential to determine who can and should be held liable and that you get the workers' compensation benefits you deserve.

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