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Crews Extract First Section of Damaged Gas Pipe

Published On: Aug 18 2011 10:18:19 AM CDT
Updated On: Feb 14 2011 09:50:35 AM CST
ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

Five days after a devastating explosion and fire killed five people and destroyed part of an Allentown neighborhood, the pipe thought to be to blame has been brought to the surface.

But the investigation of the blast is far from over.

For the last 72 hours UGI crews have been working to pull that damaged gas main out of the ground.

So far a 10-foot section has been brought to the surface. A second piece also needs to be raised.

"No issues. It's just a pain staking process," said UGI Vice President Robert Beard. "We work with the metallurgists and engineers just to make sure every step in the procedure is followed to a tee."

Once out of the ground, the pipe will be taken to a lab in New Jersey for further testing.

The problem is it takes an hour just to pull the pipe to surface.

Once the damaged pipe is removed crews will send a camera down the entire length of the gas main to make sure there is no other damage.

"The two open ends will be capped and secured, the hole will be plated or at least barricaded," said Beard. "Crews will come out tomorrow and they will start to work on the replacement of that section of main."

While crews were working on lifting the pipe, family and friends gathered to say good by to three of the victims.

Memorial services were held for Katherine Cruz, her four-month-old son, Matthew Vega, and Cruz's grandmother, Ofelia.