2012-02-23 / Front Page

Plowing contractor hits gas line: Near disaster

Parts of Mahopac evacuated
Eric Gross

A calamity was averted in Mahopac Friday morning when a private contractor plowing snow backed into a natural gas regulator, rupturing a line that released a large amount of natural gas into the air.

The Putnam 911 Dispatch Center received the first call around 7:15 a.m. and summoned both the Carmel Police Dept. and Mahopac Fire Department to the scene.

When the natural gas fumes began entering businesses along Route 6, emergency responders were forced to evacuate several shopping plazas and stores including City Limits Bagel, Subway Sandwich Shop, Chris and Kathy's Deli, the Law Offices of Joseph Tock and K-Mart.

Deputy Emergency Coordinator James Ciulla described the line ruptured as a "one and a half inch high pressure line that was blasting out at 120 pounds per square inch. The sound of the escaping gas was heard for more than a mile. The potential for disaster was very real."

Not taking any chances because of the potential danger, police closed Route 6 to all vehicular traffic.

Compounding the situation were the road conditions on I-84. State Police shut down the four lane highway from Lake Carmel to Stormville due to extremely slippery conditions and the jackknifing of five 18-wheelers.

As a result, it took emergency crews from Central Hudson Gas and Electric, headquartered in East Fishkill, more than two hours to reach the scene.

Ciulla said fire crews trained in handling natural gas crisis were able to crimp a valve below the regulator: "Leakage was still emanating from the valve but the amount was diminished greatly due to the work of the fire crews."

No injuries were reported and no explosion occurred.


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