REPORT ON THE EXPLOSION OF THE GAS FIRED OVEN
AT WOOPDEGOOP BAKERY
CONFIDENTIAL - COMPANY INTERNAL USE ONLY
I have investigated this matter thoroughly, particularly with reference to the possibility that our firm carries any liability in this tragic matter, associated, as you all know with the deaths of all members of the Woopdegoop Shire council and nine young women.
The Woopdegoop Bakery is situated in Main St between the Shire Offices to the North and a private club which goes by the name of "Molly's Black Garter" to the South.
The new oven was installed last year, and was due for the 1000 hours end of Warranty check out in June. Our fitters Jimmy Schwartz and Klors Krusel drove up to Woopdegoop early on the morning of Tuesday, September the fifth to perform this service.
It turns out that in May, Molly had had a Spa installed in the club for the benefit of the patrons. This was an expensive, fully featured unit, large enough to accommodate eighteen people, a top-of-the-line product of the Wet Blow Job Company. This unit has, or rather had, the electrical switchgear mounted on a panel in the enclosed space under the tub, adjacent to the inlet filter for the air blower.
At the end of July when she received her Electricity account, she found that her quarterly electricity charges had risen astronomically. She attributed this to the newly installed heater, pumps and blower for the spa. It appears that she expressed her concerns about this to a Mr H. Noack, maintenance electrician at the bakery, and a favoured patron at the club. This Noack was (I say was, as he was also killed in the explosion.) an enterprising fellow. He noticed that the location of the oven control cubicle on the South wall of the Bakery, corresponded exactly with the location of the Spa control panel in the -ah- club.
He found that solving Molly's excessive electricity charges problem was a simple matter of removing a couple of bricks and making some quick electrical connections on both sides of the wall. Some surviving ex-patrons of the club tell that the under-water coloured lights which were such a popular feature in the spa, would always come on when the oven conveyer was running next door. They say that Noack was always keen to please, but that his competence as an electrician was in doubt.
As you will recall, the Woopdegoop bakery purchased that old oven that had been in storage for years at the back of the factory. You will recall that the sales manager had offered a week's holiday in some country club to any of the salesmen who could shift it. (Incidentally, this came up during my investigations. Molly says that she remembers Smithers as a man of strange habits, and would be pleased if we do not send the likes of him up there again when she has finished rebuilding the place.)
Anyway, although sold as new, this oven was one of the old AK552 jobs. These all came with special provision for the installation of the Strudel baking control gear. As part of this special provision, conduits were provided to accommodate the special Strudel baking control wiring, but wires were not drawn into these, unless the customer had purchased that particular option.
Fitters Schwartz and Krusel arrived at the bakery at about 10:30 am. on that fateful Tuesday. They proceeded to dismantle the burner control gear. This gear always has a complete overhaul
in such a service. They had just completed the dismantling, and cleaned all the parts ready for reassembly, when Jimmy Schwartz noticed that it was 12:30, lunchtime. Jimmy's strict attention to time keeping at the beginning of breaks or at the end of the day, is well known. The two retired to the public bar of the Woopdegoop Grand Hotel for lunch.
When they returned, they were a little under the weather. Jimmy claimed that he was too pissed to do anything at all, and decided to take a nap in the back of the van. This left Klors Krusel to do the reassembly on his own. Klors has only been with us for six years, and had not seen one of the old AK552 burner control assemblies before. Added to this was the fact that, as he explained himself "Although I wasn't as pissed as Jimmy, I had had a few." He admits that he had some difficulty getting everything together, but at last it seemed to fit, and at 6:27 pm he turned the gas back on, and returned to the van where he awakened Jimmy, who being the more senior of the two, had to sign the overtime applications on the timesheets.
The two started their journey back to town just as the councillors emerged from the Shire Offices after a long and gruelling debate. The issue had been a permit application to build a piggery next door (up wind) to the Shire President's mother in law's home. The townspeople explained later that the President was always grumpy after a debate in which he was hoping for one outcome, but had to appear to be trying to achieve another.
Of course, the Strudel solenoid valve wasn't present in this installation, but the pipes for it were there, together with the conduit (without wires) from the Control Cubicle. With the benefit of hindsight, one could say that we should have used incompatible fittings, but that is all water under the bridge (or water through the club foyer ceiling, actually) now.
How was Klors to know that the gas line to the auxiliary Strudel solenoid valve wasn't meant to be connected to the conduit, which being without wires, looked for all the world like an auxiliary burner gas pipe? It appears that the space under the spa surrounding the blower inlet filter filled with gas within minutes after Klors turned on the gas.
Molly says that if she had asked the Shire President not to smoke his cigar in the spa once, she had asked him a hundred times. The ash used to clog the water filter. It is almost certain that this was the source of ignition. Just as well too. Klors assembled the ignition unit incorrectly, and the oven could never have been started up that night in the proper way. If it hadn't been for the Shire President's cigar, there would have been no bread in Woopdegoop on the Wednesday.
It is clear that as the gas wasn't even ignited on the same premises as the oven, let alone by a fault in the oven itself, our Company has no liability in this case.