Gas leak forces evacuation in Carmel
Holiday shoppers were inconvenienced Monday when a natural gas leak forced the evacuation of several stores and shops at the Shop-Rite Plaza in Carmel.
Carmel FD personnel under the command of Assistant Chief Vincent Ruggerio were summoned to the sprawling center off Route 52 at 10:30 a.m.
Firefighters found a strong odor of gas emanating in the vicinity of the Rite-Aid Pharmacy and when crews checked the gas levels in other shops with special meters they discovered moderate readings and evacuated the drug store, Chinese and Italian restaurants, a shoe shop, phone store, barbershop, a dry cleaners and a Laundromat.
The chief said caution was the watchword whenever there was the potential for a natural gas explosion: "In nearby New Milford, Ct., a man died over the weekend and two others were seriously injured when a natural gas line caused an explosion that leveled a house."
When several shoppers complained to the fire officials about not being able to purchase items the chief told the Courier: "I'm really sorry that they are being inconvenienced but my men and I are here as well on a holiday being inconvenienced waiting for a utility crew."
With fire apparatus stationed in front of the shopping plaza and fire crews milling about taking readings with meters, several shoppers parked in fire zones in back of the fire trucks since parking at the plaza was at a premium.
One man said: "It's no big deal. I'm just running into the store to pick-up a quart of milk."
Chief Ruggerio said he realized that "parking was difficult in Carmel especially on a holiday but parking in a fire zone is a 'no-no' anytime of the day or night."
Emergency responders remained on the scene for 90 minutes until a crew from Central Hudson Gas and Electric Company arrived and traced the odor to a small leak.
Also assisting at the scene were members of the Carmel PD and a representative of the Putnam Bureau of Emergency Services.