Posted Dec 22, 2011 12:32 pm CST
Several lawsuits blame flexible stainless steel gas lines for fires sparked by lightning strikes.
The flexible corrugated tubing, developed in Japan to avoid breaks in earthquakes, is being used more frequently in new homes in the United States, the Associated Press reports. But some fire officials are raising concerns that electrical charges from lightning strikes can travel along the tubing and then puncture it, causing gas leaks and igniting fires.
Lawyer Mark Utke of Cozen O’Connor in Philadelphia is working on dozens of suits involving the pipe, known as CSST. “For a homeowner or a business owner, really the problem with the product is it’s very unpredictable when it’s going to fail, and it’s a very difficult product to make safe,” he told AP. Utke works in the firm’s subrogation and recovery department.
One manufacturer, Omega Flex Inc., now sells the tubing wrapped in a special covering to make it more resistant to lightning strikes. Manufacturers also say faulty installation—without proper grounding—can be another factor in fires.