SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

November 2, 2012

SALEM: Highland Avenue buildings evacuated by gas leak

By Bethany Bray
The Salem News

SALEM — Two Highland Avenue buildings were evacuated and traffic was disrupted in Salem this morning after a worker hit an underground gas line while digging.

Emergency responders evacuated buildings at 84 and 86 Highland Ave., across from North Shore Medical Center/Salem Hospital's main entrance, just before noon.

A worker had been digging footings for a guard rail when he struck and punctured a hole in a high-pressure, 60 pounds per square inch gas line, said Deputy Fire Chief Gerry Giunta.

"Gas, being lighter than air, went up, and luckily there was no ignition source," Giunta said.

National Grid responded to Highland Avenue and shut off the gas. They will be repairing the line through this afternoon and gas service is expected to be restored by the end of the day, Giunta said.

The fire department and National Grid both took readings inside 84 and 86 Highland Ave., but found no gas. Employees and residents of the two buildings were allowed back roughly one hour after the initial 911 call reporting the gas leak, Giunta said.

No injuries were reported. Fire and police left the scene around 12:45 p.m.

Colby Street was closed briefly during the incident and Highland Avenue traffic was restricted to one lane.

Bethany Bray can be reached at bbray@salemnews.com and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.