Regular service call turns into life-saving discovery

Routine inspection turns into a life-saving discovery

A routine home inspection turned into a life-saving discovery and a word of warning for others.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — What was supposed to be a regular call for service for two PNM field workers turned into a life-saving discovery at a southwest Albuquerque home.

‘We were inspecting and installing the solar meter. At the same time, we were going to change out the billing meter,” said Gerald Gurrola, a meter apprentice with PNM.

Everything was going according to plan until they opened the garage door.

“The fumes or the smell were just horrible,” said Ted Knight, a meter journeyman with PNM.

It smelled like rotten eggs – a common signifier for a gas leak.

Homeowner Gail Barnett was home at the time. She said she didn’t smell anything until Gurrola and Knight pointed it out.

From there, she had to leave her home and make an important call.

“[They said] You need to call the gas company right away. And I know I probably looked blank because we just moved here and I didn’t know the number,” Barnett said.

Knight and Gurrola called the New Mexico Gas Company for Barnett. NM Gas arrived within minutes and took care of the leak.

“Afterward, I came to a little bit of a panic, realizing what could have happened,” Barnett said.

Time is of the essence. NM Gas officials say, if you catch that rotten egg smell, it’s time to leave and call them.

“It’s really important to remember: Don’t turn off or turn on any lights, don’t turn on or off the TV. Don’t use your garage door opener to leave the house. The reason for that is, if gas is present inside the house, any small ignition can potentially light the gas and cause an explosion,” said Tim Korte, of NM Gas.

You can also install gas detectors in your home as a form of early detection.

“A gas detector is usually placed near a gas-burning appliance. It emits a sound if there is gas present. That gives you a little bit of backup in addition to your sense of smell,” Korte said.

While you’re at it with the gas detector, consider getting a carbon monoxide detector.

“Carbon monoxide is called the silent killer. It is very dangerous. Anytime that you have a fuel-burning appliance, there is always a potential if it’s worn down, older, not properly maintained or properly vented. The carbon monoxide can get into the house or the business. That is extremely dangerous because carbon monoxide cannot be smelled,” Korte explained.

As for Barnett, she is thankful for NM Gas and also for the two PNM field workers. The workers who happened to be at the right place at the right time.

“You came to the rescue,” Barnett told them.