Lehigh Valley

State officials: Hickory Hills propane system not properly registered

State inspection comes after deadly home explosion

Hickory Hills violations alleged

MOORE TWP., Pa. - New information is emerging in the investigation into the gas explosion that killed a man in a mobile home park in Northampton County last month.

State officials say the propane system at the mobile home park was not properly registered with the state Public Utilities Commission.

The blast happened at Hickory Hills Mobile Home Park in Moore Township on Feb. 14.

William Neith, Sr., 65, was killed when his mobile home exploded.

The cause of the explosion was ruled an accident and officials say a gas leak was to blame.

69 News has learned the propane system was not properly registered under the PUC's Act 127 of 2008, meaning Hickory Hills could be fined $10,000 for each day not in compliance.

Officials at the PUC say they are still investigating the safety of the propane system.

Friday, the State Department of Labor and Industry released the findings of an investigation into the 30,000 gallon gas tank on the property.

Officials found 18 violations against the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Law, following the inspection of the property's 30,000 gallon gas tank.

The day after finding out about those violations with the gas tank that use to supply gas to homes, some residents of Hickory Hills Mobile Home Park say it's just one more thing that keeps them awake at night.

Hickory Hills resident John Bird said, "'Well, when we leave the house I always worry will the house be there when we get back? Because anything could happen, you know?"

Some of the violations include lack of safe access to inspect the safety valves, pipes that weren't properly protected from vehicles, emergency shutoff valves not installed according to code and a damaged pressure gauge.

Also according to the state's report, a current permit, documentation of insurance and fire safety analysis were not available at the time of inspection.

The Department of Labor and Industry says Hickory Hills has until March 31 to fix the violations.

"You think of that poor man that was killed up at that house. He went to work and came back, went to bed and now he's dead. That worries me an awful lot," said Bird.

Since the deadly blast, residents have had to acquire their own propane tanks through outside providers.

"Now that we don't have gas coming from the big tank anymore it doesn't really matter, but they still have piping underground and there's other issues," said resident Frank Kirk.

Kirk says he had planned to sell his home even before the deadly explosion happened.

"Looking around, you can see all the houses for sale. This one's going up for sale this spring. We've been fixing it up and we want to get out because of the situation. Not with just the propane but with everything else going on," Kirk said.

While some people are upset by the state's new findings, others say they're happy with the management here and they're confident the issues will be resolved.

"I've never had an issue with the management," said resident Fred Bechtoldt. "They've always treated me respectfully. All of my concerns were taken care of in a timely manner. I've always seen the crew out here working hard to maintain the place."

"The park will have to take care of it now. Like I said, we've never had any problems here," said resident Dan Martino.

Attempts to contact the management at Hickory Hills were unsuccessful.

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