NV Energy Says it's Not Responsible for Downtown Explosion

LAS VEGAS -- NV Energy says a July explosion that nearly leveled several downtown businesses was not their fault. The utility is pointing the finger at Southwest Gas.

The Las Vegas Fire Department says it doesn't have the tools to figure out what caused the explosion but NV Energy says an independent investigation shows it was not caused by them.

The frustration from damage caused by the July 11, 2010 power transformer explosion was shown in one Main Street business owner's sign which says, "Shame on NV Energy".

The utility released a statement Monday saying, "A third party investigation determined that a natural gas leak from an outside source was the source of the explosion."

Investigators say the gas seeped from an underground gas pipeline into a power conduit. The gas continued along the conduit into a switch box where investigators believe something  sparked it causing the explosion. Southwest Gas declined to comment, only saying they had their own investigators looking into the issue.

The several businesses that were damaged say they are hurting to stay open and haven't received any insurance claims yet.

"There was $87,000 worth of damage to both of my buildings," said Richard Moore, Howie's Auto Service. "Windows, the doors, the roofs had to be re-done. They did a lot of work in the ceilings."

NV Energy said -- even though it isn't responsible -- it will pay business owners for damages that may not be covered by the insurance companies. 

Mayra Politis, the owner of The Attic, doesn't know whether NV Energy's offer will be enough to pay for renovations or complete rebuilding of her old building. She says the explosion came at a time when business was doing well.

"We were moving forward. We were moving forward very quickly. Now, with City Hall opening and the Zappos coming downtown, we're going to have an influx of people," said Politis. 

Some Main Street business owners made claims that Southwest Gas employees were seen checking the area for a suspected gas leak months before the explosion. Southwest Gas declined to comment on those claims until their investigation is finished.


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