Portland neighborhood evacuated after construction crew ruptures gas line

Posted Sept. 05, 2013, at 3:21 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 05, 2013, at 6:10 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Homes were evacuated and cut off from electricity in an East Deering neighborhood of Portland Thursday after a construction crew punctured an underground natural gas line on Front Street, a city fire department official said.

Portland Deputy Fire Chief Terry Walsh told the Bangor Daily News Thursday afternoon that about a dozen homes were cleared out in the 94-96 Front Street area, and that fire officials asked Central Maine Power Co. to shut down power for the grid in the area while representatives of the gas utility company Unitil check gas levels in nearby structures and ventilate them as necessary.

“Gas went into a number of buildings on Front Street and the surrounding area,” Walsh said. “At this time we’ve evacuated between 12 and 15 people from the area.”

Walsh said a two-inch, 30-pounds-per-square-inch gas line was ruptured. He said he estimates that fire crews, CMP and Unitil officials will remain on scene for at least another “couple hours.”

He said the closest school to the break, Presumpscot Elementary School, “is making contingency plans for the kids who live over in that area.” Walsh said the school, which let out for the day at 3 p.m., will likely keep students who live in the affected areas in the building later until their homes are habitable again or alternative plans are made with their parents.

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