Natural gas leak forces evacuations in Glenville

Posted at: 03/14/2014 11:50 PM
Updated at: 03/15/2014 8:34 AM
By: Dan Levy

GLENVILLE - What began Friday morning as a late-winter-run-of-the-mill water main break in Glenville, quickly escalated into a potentially explosive situation around mid day -- all it took was a misplaced jackhammer.

After a five hour long evacuation, residents of Velina Drive in Glenville were back inside their homes by early Friday evening. Those residents had been ordered out by fire officials after a natural gas line ruptured just before noon time.

Ordinarily, natural gas is something that no one can see, but on Velina Drive, all Friday afternoon, high pressurized streams of natural gas, mixed with water, were spewing into the sky for everyone to see, and smell, and get as far away from as possible.

"You hear stories about houses with gas leaks and explosions so I think we'll just be hyper-aware of things for a little while," says Mary Lawrence, one of four families evacuated from their home by East Glenville firefighters.

"Any time you have natural gas it's a dangerous situation," said East Glenville Fire Chief Andrew Pohl, "We evacuated some houses as a precaution."

Velina Drive residents already knew that town work crews would be in their neighborhood on Friday morning, since a water main break had been discovered the night before.

"They, of course, had to jackhammer and dig and the markings, as far as I had been told, were incorrect, and they hit the gas line," said Nancy Hughes, a Velina Drive evacuee.

The gas line was a six inch transmission line that services the entire neighborhood, and so when it ruptured the natural gas leakage was intense and potentially very dangerous.

"Worse things could happen," Hughes said.

Chief Pohl said before anyone would be let back inside their home, his crew would make sure the air quality was safe. Just after 5:00 P.M. it was mission accomplished.

"It's definitely a little scary," Lawrence said, "that's one of the disadvantages when it comes to having natural gas for heat."

The gas leak also caused disruptions and detours for traffic in that area just off state route 50.

The gas leak wasn't the only emergency in East Glenville on Friday. Before reaching Velina Drive, firefighters were dispatched to an emergency medical call where they wound up successfully helping a young woman deliver a baby.