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Careless digging mistakes on your property can cost you

Know what's below

We all know those three digits that can save a life: 9-1-1. There's another three digits pipeline companies want you to know to keep the neighborhood safe: 8-1-1. Their message is simple, "know what's below, before you dig!"

A demonstration at the Alabama Fire College in Tuscaloosa demonstrated how quickly a mistake can escalate into a full blown emergency.

"A gasline can be pretty nasty with ignition. An explosion can occur," explains McKay Lyvers with Alabama 811 Damage Prevention.

And it's not just contractors, homeowners need to take note as well. Small landscaping projects like putting in bushes, a fence or new mailbox can cause trouble if you hit an underground line.

Lyvers says before any digging call the state's free services at 8-1-1. Utility locators mark the underground lines within 48 hours, so you know exactly where to avoid. Being careless can cost you.

Lyvers told us one homeowner was billed $3,000 for damaging a line while putting in a mailbox.He says utility lines are hit everyday across the state.

Most don't make the news headlines, but the incidents can be both dangerous and expensive. Last week, a contractor installing playground equipment at a Birmingham school hit an underground line. The school had to be evacuated. It's not clear yet whether the North Carolina company contacted 8-1-1 before digging.

Alabama 8-1-1 had 500,000 locate line requests in 2016. That's a 22% increase over the year before. Damage to lines has dropped 54% in the past ten years.



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