Gas leak shuts down part of East Main Road, Portsmouth

Contractor's digging ruptures gas line

Posted

UPDATE (11:32 a.m.): Police say the leak has been contained and East Main Road is back open.

PORTSMOUTH — A ruptured gas line shut down East Main Road, from Hedly Street to Turnpike Avenue, for over an hour on Monday.

At about 10 a.m., members of the Portsmouth Police and Fire departments responded to the area of 2525 East Main Road for a report of a ruptured gas line, Police Detective Lt. A.J. Bucci stated in an e-mail.    

“Officials determined the ruptured gas line was caused by a contractor digging in the area,” he said. 

According to Deputy Fire Chief Michael O’Brien, a backhoe operator was responsible for rupturing a gas service line. Workers were operating the equipment at property formally occupied by a gas station, but which will soon be occupied by a real estate business, he said.

National Grid gas was called to the scene and notified officials that there was no gas shutoff, Lt. Bucci said. As a result, East Main Road, from Hedly Street to Turnpike Avenue, was shut down until the gas line could be repaired.

Some nearby businesses were also evacuated during the leak. Employees from People’s Credit Union were told to walk over to Clements’ Marketplace, where they remained until it was deemed safe to return. (While there, Clements' treated the bank employees to freshly made mini-doughnuts.)

Deputy O’Brien said fire crews established a water supply by connecting to the closest hydrant and deployed fire attack lines in preparation for a potential explosion. 

“Firefighters used multi-gas meters to measure the levels of flammable gases around the leak and in nearby structures,” he said.

The road shutdown was initially expected to last two to three hours, but by 11:30 a.m. police reported that the leak had been contained and the road back open.

Fire Chief Michael Cranson said he was grateful to Naval Station Newport for covering the town while its responders were occupied. He also thanked the Middletown Fire Department for transporting a patient from a separate medical emergency that occurred during the leak. 

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.