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By FRANK C. MONTAGNAYou are dispatched to a reported gas leak in the street. Another "routine" gas leak, you think. You will call the utility, wait for a representative to respond, and then return to the fire station. This time, however, as you enter the block, you hear the deafening sound of a high-pressure gas main rupture. The distinctive odor of gas permeates the area. A homeowner flags you down, saying that a contractor's backhoe ruptured the gas line. As you speak to him, the gas ignites. This is no routine response. Natural gas, when transported through your utility company's pipes and used properly, is safe. However, when third-party contractor damage, equipment failure, e...

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