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Gas leak sparks evacuation

Repair work on damaged water line leads to severed gas main on East George and Ives

The Providence Fire Department evacuated about 10 homes due to a gas leak at the intersection of East George Street and Ives Street Monday evening, said Fire Department Captain Robert Vincent. 

The issue arose early Monday morning when a contractor working on telephone conduits damaged a water line, said Mark Haroian, senior manager of transmission and distribution of the Providence Water Supply Board.

Workers “hit the (water) line that directly fed into the unit that I live in,” said Christopher Erb GS. “We had no water for the rest of the day,” he added.

The contractors told Erb that the water line was not “where it was supposed to be,” Erb said.

When Providence Water employees attempted to repair the broken water line around 5 p.m., inconsistencies between pipeline markings and the lines’ actual locations led to the gas leak, Haroian said.

“They severed a two-inch gas main, and that was the cause of the evacuation,” Vincent said.

National Grid workers arrived on the scene and shut the valves down to stop the leak within 45 minutes, Vincent said.

“They were very efficient, they checked everything,” said Bernie Maceroni, a live-in landlord on East George Street.

Erb’s house was one of several to be evacuated after the gas leak. Firemen “essentially said go away and stay away for awhile,” he said.

The water company had to “excavate in a more aggressive way than we normally would have” due to the “inaccurate” markings of the National Grid gas lines, said Ricky Caruolo, general manager of Providence Water.

“If (the markings) were accurate, we probably would not have been so aggressive,” Caruolo said.

When Erb first noticed the incident outside his house, a “dense cloud” of gas was coming out the ground, he said, adding “it looked like the fumes were just spewing onto the face of the house.”

“It looked like the littlest spark could have set off a potentially devastating explosion,” Erb said. “I think that steps should be taken to make sure this type of thing doesn’t happen again.”

Officials said the coordinated response to the gas leak worked effectively.

“We took the appropriate measures internally to document the incident in place with employees that were involved,” Caruolo said.



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