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Fast Action Contains Gas Leak In Downtown Madison; Incident Shuts Down Wall Street For About 40 Minutes (With Video)

Coordinated Action By Contractor, Fire Department, And Gas Company Prevents Larger Problem On Full Moon Friday; Wall Street Businesses And Residences Evacuated, Road Closed At All Access Points

Fire and emergency crews responded to a report of a gas leak at a construction site at 64 Wall Street Friday morning after a construction worker on an excavator nicked a two-inch gas line.

Madison police say the call came in around 9:31 a.m. and that the incident was cleared, and the road was re-opened, around 10:11 a.m.

Madison Hose Co. No. 1 Lieutenant Robert Kyttle, the incident command at the scene, said upon arriving at 64 Wall Street shortly after 9:30 a.m., they found the broken gas line and notified the gas company, which dispatched a crew immediately.

"We quickly shut down Wall Street at Bradley Road, Railroad Avenue, and Route 1. We also shut down Clippership Row at Route 1, because traffic can come in from Route 1 that way," Kyttle said. "We went door to door on Wall Street and told people to go towards the downtown, have a cup of coffee, whatever. Then the gas company showed up on the scene, determined where the gas shut-off was in the road and they shut off the gas."

Kyttle said the gas company then made sure the area was all safe and clear, using a meter to make sure there was no lingering gas. "We then gave the all clear for residents to come back and for the street to be opened," Kyttle said.

Kyttle credits fast action with preventing larger problem

Kyttle said all of Wall Street and Brookside Road in the downtown were evacuated. Kyttle credited the quick action of everyone on the scene with preventing a larger problem on "a full moon Friday."

"The gas company was so fast getting there that by the time we got everyone out, they were on the scene," he said. "As scary as that can of thing can be, that’s all it is, as long as gas company gets there and takes care of it quickly. It was textbook today. Everything worked out. The found the resource, they hit it, and we were done."

People who were working at their businesses on Wall Street said they first knew there was a problem when they heard a "hissing sound" coming from the area of the construction site.

Operator of construction equipment warns nearby businesses

They said the operator of the construction equipment immediately informed nearby businesses of the potential hazard, warning people not to do anything that could create a spark, and that fire crews responded quickly after receiving the call.

Bill Clorite, the general manager of Overshores Associates, a real estate management company that owns the property at 64 Wall St., said he received a call at home early this morning about the leak. He said by the time he got to the site about five to ten minutes later, the leak had been shut off and the area secured.

Gas line nub left longer than expected

The excavator was digging out an area for the basement of a new building planned for the site, Clorite said, when the teeth on the bucket of the hydraulic excavator nicked the nub of a two-inch gas main. Clorite said about two months ago, the gas company put in a new feed line for the gas service that runs into an apartment building next to the construction site.

"A piece of it was left a little big longer than we thought it was," he said. Clorite said he would be working with Southern Connecticut Gas Friday to make sure all of the information about gas lines and nubs were clear to the construction crew. "We'll make sure there are no more surprises, and that we get all the information to make sure there are no future problems with this."

Clorite said the new building will include office, medical, and retail space. He said it should be open by early summer.

This story was posted at 1:16 p.m. on Friday and was updated throughout the day.

eileen banisch February 19, 2011 at 05:04 PM
Great coordinated effort by all. Many thanks to our volunteer firefighters and our police department working together to avoid potential disaster.
Pem McNerney (Editor) February 19, 2011 at 05:32 PM
You are so right, Eileen ... we are lucky it was flagged early and taken care of quickly.

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