Inmate injured in Fresno gas pipeline explosion dies

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno County inmate has died after being badly injured in a Northwest Fresno gas explosion. That fiery blast happened on April 17 at the Fresno County peace officers gun range.

The inmate was Jeremiah Espino, 52, of Sanger. He was one of 11 inmates who were taken to Community Regional Medical Center after the pipeline explosion.

Attorneys for several of the inmates have filed lawsuits against Pacific Gas and Electric. They're seeking more than $48 million in punitive damages and damages claims against Fresno County. It's unclear if the inmate who died was represented by an attorney involved in those lawsuits.

The exact cause of the explosion is being investigated by several different agencies. This week, a scientific analysis is being done on the pipe that blew up.

But a public works employee was using a front loader to smooth dirt when it happened, according to the Fresno County Sheriff's Office.

PG&E maintains the pipeline had been surveyed in 2013, and they didn't find any leaks that could trigger an explosion. They also say no one from the county called the company to notify them that any work was being done near the pipeline.

PG&E released the following statement Monday night: "We're saddened by this news and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and with the others injured in the incident."

The Fresno County Sheriff's Office had no comment about Espino's death.

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