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Car Hits Gas Pipe, Explodes in Driveway


RESEDA — Sarabjit Kaur Sampa had parked her sedan in her driveway hundreds of times before. Tuesday night, something different happened--the car ruptured an exposed gas line and blew up, setting her house on fire.

Sampa and her family, who were waiting for her to pull in, all escaped the inferno, with virtually no injuries. But it left the five residents of the home--two brothers, their girlfriends and one child--wondering how they could recover.

"What happens happens," said Balbir Singh, 40, as he sat on a patch of grass nursing second-degree burns to his leg. "I don't know myself what I can do."

Singh said he's out of work and Sampa, his girlfriend, is expecting their second child.

Singh's relatives came over to the house at 19561 Keswick Ave. on Tuesday night, and were standing on the lawn when Sampa and Singh pulled up about 7:45 p.m., he said. But their car hit the exposed Southern California Gas Co. pipe running into the house, breaking it. The running car apparently ignited the escaping gas, the family said.

Singh pulled Sampa from the car and the family, including a young girl, scattered as the flames grew, and the car exploded, igniting the house.

The blaze was still burning two hours later, Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said. The gas main was ruptured six to eight inches underground, so even after the department controlled the blaze it continued to burn at the unreachable source. Humphrey said the gas company was expected to shut down the pipe later Tuesday night.

The fire caused $20,000 in damage to the house, Humphrey said.

"We've parked there millions of times," lamented Singh's nephew, Hari Singh Dhandi, 23. "Just this time--boom!"

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