Local News

Attorney says house explosion caused by uncapped gas line

Man injured in Fitchburg home explosion released from hospital

FITCHBURG, Wis. - The attorney of the 57-year-old man injured in an Aug. 25 house explosion on Cheryl Drive says the explosion was caused by an uncapped gas line.

Brian Grittner suffered broken bones and superficial burns in the blast, officials said.

Grittner's mother confirmed to News 3 that he was released from the hospital over a week ago and is going through rehab. He suffered broken bones and a traumatic brain injury.

Grittner's attorney, Dan Rottier, told News 3 Grittner replaced his gas powered dryer with an electrical dryer that he bought five years ago at a Madison Sears.

Rottier said the installer did not cap the gas line during the work, and on the day of the explosion a tree-trimming crew asked Grittner to turn off a water valve. Grittner mistakenly opened the gas valve, which caused the house to fill up with gas and led to the explosion, Rottier said.

Rottier said Sears contracted with a local company to do the installation.

"Almost every safety code requires a cap to be put on a pipe when you remove a gas appliance," Rottier said.

Rottier said that didn't happen.

"It's not the results of our investigation, so I can't vouch for the statement," Fitchburg fire Chief Joe Pulvermacher said. "It all seems like something that could've happened, so I would not want to be that installer."

State and local investigators have not yet released a cause, but Grittner and Rottier plan to file a lawsuit against Sears, as they believe the company is responsible for the events that led to the explosion.

Rottier said he got the information about what he believes is the cause of the explosion from police interviews with Grittner, and he's confident state and local investigators will determine a similar cause.

The explosion at 5573 Cheryl Drive happened around 6:45 p.m. and damaged several other homes in the neighborhood. Grittner was found in the rubble in his front yard.

Crews were at the scene of the explosion Tuesday continuing the investigation.

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