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Officials probe back-to-back Crown Hill incidents involving propane, natural gas

NASHUA – When firefighters on Engine 4 arrived in the area of Heon Court late Saturday morning to check on a report of an outside fire, it quickly became apparent there was more going on than had originally been reported.

Flames had reached two parked vehicles and, more concerning, were headed toward the backyard of a Harvard Street residence, where “several propane tanks” were situated, NFR Deputy Chief Glen MacDonald said.

Meanwhile, just one hour later, the same crews were called, along with police and an AMR ambulance, to 57 Marshall St., where callers reported a vehicle had struck the house while the driver was trying to back into the yard.

Firefighters found a mini-van up against the side of the large, two-family house, and upon investigating found that the vehicle had severed the building’s natural gas meters from the supply pipe, and also damaged gas piping in the cellar, MacDonald said.

When crews arrived, the driver, described as an 89-year-old man, was standing outside the vehicle, which was still running.

They immediately shut off the engine, and upon further inspection found that the high-pressure gas supply line had an automatic shutoff, MacDonald said, adding that crews also shut off the gas supply at the valve.

They sprayed water over the area to disperse any remaining gas fumes, then used hand-held gas detectors to check the interior of the house, MacDonald said.

They found the house to be clear of any gas fumes, and no gas odor was detected, he added.

Ambulance personnel checked out the driver, MacDonald said, but he wasn’t transported to the hospital.

He said representatives of Liberty Utilities arrived a short time later to repair the damage and turn the gas back on.

As for the Heon Court-Harvard Street incident, MacDonald said that upon Engine 4’s arrival, Lt. Michael DuVarney requested a full first-alarm assignment, which brought Engine 2 and Ladder 2 to the scene.

Heon Court is a short, narrow street that runs easterly off Allds Street, and is adjacent to the backyards of several Harvard Street residences.

While two crews extinguished the burning cars on Heon Court, another took care of the fire behind 9, 11 and 13 Harvard St., MacDonald said.

In addition to damaging the cars, MacDonald said the fire also consumed a canoe.

MacDonald said there were no reported injuries, and that the cause of the blaze remains under investigation by members of the city Fire Marshal’s office.

Dean Shalhoup may be reached at 594-1256 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com.