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Gas leak discovered on Federal Street

Recorder/Peter MacDonald
Greenfield police and fire block off Lincoln and Federal during an investigation of a possible natural gas leak Tuesday evening.  Several buildings were evacuated

Recorder/Peter MacDonald Greenfield police and fire block off Lincoln and Federal during an investigation of a possible natural gas leak Tuesday evening. Several buildings were evacuated

GREENFIELD — A local firefighter’s keen sense of smell detected a gas leak while driving down a busy street Tuesday evening.

“Deputy Chief (Robert) Strahan was heading home from the station, when he smelled natural gas through the vents in his car,” said Capt. John Whitney.

Strahan pulled over immediately, near the Federal Street Cumberland Farms, at about 5:30 p.m., and the odor intensified as he left his vehicle, said Whitney. Strahan called his crew, who called the gas company to the scene, closed the road from Lincoln to Smith streets, evacuated Cumberland Farms, Dominos Pizza, and Aubuchon Hardware, and set to work looking for the source.

“It wasn’t coming from our building,” said Maggie Paddock, a clerk at Cumberland Farms.

Even so, the business was evacuated.

“They kicked us right out. They’d already closed the road, we couldn’t even get to our cars.”

They only had time to hit the big red shut-off switch for the store’s gas pumps.

Firefighters checked nearby businesses and homes to make sure the gas wasn’t getting into any nearby buildings. It wasn’t.

The gas was found to be coming from the street’s underground storm drain system, where it had been building up for some time.

“After the fact, we found out that people had been smelling gas in the area for two or three days,” said Whitney. “With the storm drains covered in snow, it had nowhere to go, and it built up.”

Berkshire Gas Co. workers probed the ground up and down the street, and were able to narrow the leak down to an area of the street directly in front of Cumberland Farms.

The Turners Falls Fire Department was called to staff the Greenfield station during the response, and police provided assistance at the scene. Firefighters cleared the scene at about 7 p.m., said Whitney.

At press time, Federal Street remained closed from Lincoln to Smith streets, as Berkshire Gas Co. continued to address the problem.

David Rainville can be reached at:
drainville@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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