Thursday, July 24, 2014
My Account  | Login
Nashua;69.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/novc.png;2014-07-24 06:40:11
Saturday, June 14, 2014

Merrimack gas leak closes roads in center of town; no injuries reported

MERRIMACK – The sudden eruption of natural gas into what one witness called “a 20-foot geyser” behind a Daniel Webster Highway gas station on Friday afternoon triggered a few anxious moments as firefighters rushed to the scene to try to neutralize the danger.

Officials said an employee of Enpro Services, a regional environmental services firm, was operating an excavator at the rear of D&W Auto Center at 455 Daniel Webster Highway when it accidentally struck and ruptured a 11⁄4-inch natural gas line beneath the surface. ...

Sign up to continue

Print subscriber?    Sign up for Full Access!

Please sign up for as low as 36 cents per day to continue viewing our website.

Digital subscribers receive

  • Unlimited access to all stories from nashuatelegraph.com on your computer, tablet or smart phone.
  • Access nashuatelegraph.com, view our digital edition or use our Full Access apps.
  • Get more information at nashuatelegraph.com/fullaccess
Sign up or Login

MERRIMACK – The sudden eruption of natural gas into what one witness called “a 20-foot geyser” behind a Daniel Webster Highway gas station on Friday afternoon triggered a few anxious moments as firefighters rushed to the scene to try to neutralize the danger.

Officials said an employee of Enpro Services, a regional environmental services firm, was operating an excavator at the rear of D&W Auto Center at 455 Daniel Webster Highway when it accidentally struck and ruptured a 11⁄4-inch natural gas line beneath the surface.

Firefighters arrived within about a minute from Station 1, which is just a
quarter-mile south of the scene, to find what fire marshal John Manuele described as a large leak that was flowing behind the building.

Crews immediately closed Daniel Webster Highway between Baboosic Lake Road and Woodbury Drive, evacuated nearby buildings and cut power to minimize the chance of a spark.

Loop Road, which runs parallel to Daniel Webster Highway behind the gas station, was also closed to traffic.

Manuele said firefighters set up hose lines, spraying water on the gas plume to prevent the danger of an explosion.

“They were digging up an old underground tank when it happened,” said a D&W employee who identified himself only as Mike.

He said he and co-
workers looked out when they heard a commotion and saw the plume.

“We shut everything off, then they cut the electricity,” he said.

Also evacuated was The Lobster Boat Restaurant, a town landmark that was winding up its busy Friday lunch hour when the incident happened.

The timing of the incident created a “perfect storm” situation with traffic, officials said, as Merrimack High School, which is just up the hill from the scene, began letting out just minutes after police closed the roads.

Officers were stationed along Baboosic Lake Road, Daniel Webster Highway and Woodbury Drive to detour traffic and minimize congestion, but the volume of traffic caused backups more than a mile to the south and a half-mile to the north of the scene.

Manuele said a crew from Liberty Utilities arrived on the scene and was able to stem the majority of the leak shortly before 3 p.m. It was completely stopped about 15 minutes later, he said.

Crews then began air-monitoring operations, with several firefighters carrying hand-held meters to various spots to check readings. Manuele said they determined by about 3:30 p.m. that all was safe, and the highway and Loop Road were reopened to traffic.

Manuele said a Nashua fire engine came to assist and responded to an accident at Pennichuck Square with the Merrimack ambulance.

He said Amherst was unable to provide mutual aid because of a lack of manpower.

No injuries were reported, Manuele said, adding that the incident remains under investigation.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).