Recover NW 23

A letter from Loy Clark President Michael Bass

The Loy Clark Pipeline family deeply regrets the explosion in Northwest Portland and its impact on the people who live and work in the Nob Hill neighborhood. Our thoughts are with those injured and displaced by the incident.

We take this event very seriously. I am working with our safety director to review our protocols and we are participating in four other independent investigations.

What we know

Just before 9 a.m. on Oct. 19, a three-person Loy Clark crew dug a hole for a communications junction box with a hand shovel and with a backhoe on the sidewalk along Northwest Glisan Street near 23rd Avenue in Portland’s Nob Hill neighborhood. The backhoe inadvertently struck the natural gas line. Natural gas leaked into the basement of the adjacent building. The Loy Clark crew immediately called NW Natural and 9-1-1 and notified people in buildings in the immediate area. The natural gas leak lead to an explosion that caused injuries and serious damage.

How we responded

I immediately directed Loy Clark’s safety director to review the incident and what, if any, changes we need to make.

The morning after the incident, I joined Loy Clark’s Safety Director, our general foremen and our 20 crews to review safety protocols during a “safety stand-up,” a safety best practice used in our industry. I also am leading a comprehensive review of our safety training and protocols.

Loy Clark and the three-person crew have been working with investigators led by the Oregon Public Utility Commission, the Oregon Occupational Safety & Health Administration, NW Natural and the Portland Bureau of Fire & Rescue.

Loy Clark partnered with NW Natural to provide hotel rooms, meals and parking for displaced residents and supported the Red Cross Cascades Region relief effort.

What we don’t know about the incident

We know that the Loy Clark backhoe struck the natural gas line.

What we don’t yet know is:

  1. Why did the gas migrate into the basement of the adjacent building?
  2. What ignition source caused the explosion?

As NW Natural has pointed out, natural gas needs a very specific set of conditions to create an explosion like this. There must be a specific amount of gas in an enclosed space and there must be source of ignition – all at one time.

The answers to these two questions are a part of the investigations being conducted by the city, state and NW Natural.

How to find help

We want to make sure anyone who needs help can find it.

How to make an insurance claim: Anyone who has experienced a loss can make a claim by calling our insurance provider, Liberty Mutual, at 844-839-5491.

How to find services: The Multnomah County 24-hour Crisis Health Line offers free counseling with mental health professionals and assistance to find ongoing mental health services. Call at 503-988-4888.

How to stay informed

How to get email updates: Loy Clark will share updates by email. Anyone may sign up to receive these emails. Click here to sign up.

Share your thoughts: Loy Clark would like to hear from you. Send us a note through email at or the form below.


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Loy Clark Pipeline, our employees and their families have been a proud partner in building this community since the company was founded in Oregon in 1957. Contractors and utilities rely on Loy Clark to deliver safe and reliable services across the region. We’re committed to supporting the Nob Hill community through this recovery and welcome your feedback and ideas for how we can help.

Michael Bass
President, Loy Clark Pipeline Co.

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