Quarry Blasting Shakes California Home Apart

VISALIA, Calif. (CN) – Explosions at a rock quarry were so strong it forced a couple to move and destroyed their house, the family claims in court.
     Robb and Virginia Lewis sued Papich Construction Co. in Tulare County Superior Court on Aug. 3.
     The Lewises bought a home surrounded by 10 acres of orange orchards outside Orosi in 2000. Orosi, pop. 8,770, is in Tulare County, north of Visalia and southeast of Fresno.
     Five years after the Lewises moved in, the Sierra Pacific Materials rock quarry, which is 300 to 500 feet from the southwest corner of their property, “began excavation operations.” The quarry has changed hands several times and now is owned by Papich, a general engineering and hazardous substances removal contractor, according to the complaint.
     Blasting at the quarry started “violently shaking” their home in September 2013. In October they noticed cracks in the drywall, in the concrete around their home, and in their water well.
     “Due to the violent shaking and further damage to the property that resulted from each blast from the quarry, the Lewises began suffering emotional distress associated with the significant and obvious damage to their residence and its surroundings,” the complaint states.
     That December, the Lewises were so afraid the blasts were compromising the structural integrity of their home they moved out. The blasting continued, through at least June this year, according to the complaint.
     The blasting destroyed their house, “with the structure no longer on its foundation and with the walls no longer vertical and plumb,” the Lewises say. The stress from losing their home caused both of them to seek medical treatment, the couple says.
     They say Papich should have known that “setting off large explosive devices” near the house could cause “concussive shock waves to enter (their) property” and destroy it.
     Papich did not respond to a request for comment Friday.
     The Lewises seek declaratory judgment that Papich is liable for their losses and at least $25,000 in damages for strict liability, tort for ultra hazardous activity, trespass and nuisance.
     They are represented by Amy Lovegren-Tipton of Fresno, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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