Hotels put on notice about torches after Hilton incident - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Hotels put on notice about torches after Hilton incident

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - The Guam Fire Department has completed its investigation into last month's explosion at the Hilton Hotel. The incident could have been prevented and the agency has put island businesses on notice.

The investigation wasn't easy, piecing through debris and trying to track down the source of last month's explosion at the Hilton Hotel in Tumon. GFD incident commander Captain Joey Manibusan said, "We had to examine all these factors meticulously. It also involved the excavation of LPG Gas lines, which were buried underground and we determined that a lot of them were under the condition of deterioration and very corroded. A lot of corrosion."

Manibusan says the incident was accidental and a combustion explosion resulted from a gas leak in the service lines that were servicing the hotel's tiki torches.  He says the LP gas migrated into the underground pump room through ventilation shafts and ignited by electricity.

He says the explosion could have been prevented, adding, "In this particular case if the Hilton did contact the proper authorities when they did notice the gas leaks or contact the gas companies. If they did take the proper precautionary measures yes it could have been prevented."

In fact the incident has served as a warning for all local hotels and businesses that utilize the infamous tiki torches that light up the island's sandy beaches at night. "At this time the policy of the fire department, the Fire Prevention Bureau, with the backing of the fire chief and our local lawmakers at this time is that the LPG tiki torches are unauthorized. Any establishment caught with these types of tiki torches will receive a fine and their tiki torches will be confiscated," Manibusan explained.

Manibusan says the establishments are required to have a permit to operate LPG tiki torches and at this time, no such permit exists.  GFD has advised local hotels to look for safe alternatives and contact gas companies to determine if there are any gas leaks.  It's a similar suggestion the department offers to island residents utilizing LP gas in their homes.

"It is a very hazardous gas," he said.

GFD encourages residents and businesses to be proactive and make the necessary checks now before it's too late.  

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