Summer projects planned? Make sure you call before you dig

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – It seems like an all too often news story in Lexington, a construction crew hits a gas line and all of sudden there is a rush of fire trucks and police cars closing off the area.

It can quickly turn into a dangerous situation, Lexington Fire Battalion Chief Mark Blankenship says. Gas pipelines can easily explode and catch fire.

Besides being a dangerous situation, it keeps fire crews and police officers on the scene for nearly four to eight hours while the gas company fixes the line. The public safety response alone can easily cost more than $2,000, Blankenship says.

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Most incidents can be avoided by calling the nationwide utility location number, 8-1-1. It’s actually the law to call the number before you dig in Kentucky.

“With home owners, it’s usually a lack of education,” Blankenship says. “Most contractors are familiar with the law, but they tend to skirt around the limits of it.”

The law says if you dig more than six inches, you must call 8-1-1 first. Once you put in a request, utility crews will come out to the location of the planned construction and mark where their lines are located.

It’s all done for free.

If you don’t call, you could be facing fines from Lexington Fire investigators. An updated Kentucky law that took effect on June 24th allows investigators to cite people who fail to call the free service.

The penalty for not calling 8-1-1 in Lexington is $250. If you accidentally hit a line, it goes up to $1,000 and can increase if you are a repeat offender.

“These are huge safety violations,” Blankenship says. “Not only is the potential there to get someone significantly hurt or killed, but it also takes resources from the fire department and police department that can be used elsewhere.”

For more information on Kentucky’s 8-1-1, click here.