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CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) - As of Thursday night the specific cause of a deadly explosion in Tama county is still undetermined. But it raises concerns about gas leaks and furnace problems as many people crank up the heat for the first time this season.
John McAtee a Novak Heating technician in Cedar Rapids is going non-stop on calls, looking for leaks to keep families safe. He says there are so many bells and whistles on todays furnaces that beyond changing or cleaning filters the number one thing homeowners should know is when to call for help. One customer tried to fix it themselves and then we get there and go to fire it up and then you got a gas leak out of a gas valve and we had the furnace .. actually caught fire as we were there .
Cedar Rapids homeowner Bill Burke says he would never take any chances at his house. He even went out and bought a gas detector after his wife insisted she smelled gas a few years ago. He couldnt smell anything but then his furnace tech went into the basement for a regular maintenance check. It was a very small pin hole where the propane was leaking out and the guy that cleaned my furnace could smell it so he lit a match and fire shot out of the t connection in the pipe.
McAtee says hes walked into dangerous situations in the past with a house full of gas and had to use extreme caution. He says its critical homeowners know what to do too if they smell gas. You dont want to call from your house. You want to go outside the house and call because any spark .. you dont want to turn on any light switches or anything or cause anything, any little spark if the gas smell is overwhelming it could set off an explosion .. just get out.
Alliant Energy says your best bet is to leave the house .. then call 9-1-1 .. and then call the company that provides your natural gas. Utilities also point out that its important that you call. They say there have been cases where they have found e-mails hours after a gas leak was detected and its critical to call and get emergency help on the scene as soon as possible.