Firefighters defuse situation after gas leak

Fairfield firefighters protect nearby houses as crews from Southern Connecticut Gas close off a natural gas leak on Knapps Highway Wednesday, Sept. 12. (Fairfield Fire Department Photo)

Fairfield firefighters protect nearby houses as crews from Southern Connecticut Gas close off a natural gas leak on Knapps Highway Wednesday, Sept. 12. (Fairfield Fire Department Photo)

Fairfield Firefighters and Southern Connecticut Gas responded when a high-pressure gas line ruptured while crews worked on Knapps Highway Wednesday, Sept. 12.

The leak was reported at 5:59 p.m. near Knapps Highway and Alvin Street.

Fairfield Fire Engine 1 and 2, Ladder 2 and Car 3 responded, with Ladder 2 first to arrive on the scene reporting a 1½-inch high pressure natural gas line rupture and crews working in the roadway.

Shift Commander Doug Chavenello in Car 3 called for an additional engine company, and Engine 3 responded along with Fire Chief Richard Felner in Car 1 and Assistant Chief Chris Tracy in Car 5.

While Fairfield Police blocked traffic access to the scene and initiated a Reverse 911 call to homes in a one-quarter mile radius, Southern Connecticut Gas was called to the scene Fire personnel evacuated the homes immediately adjacent to the leaking gas line, shut down vehicles and other potential ignition sources, and set up safety hoses to protect exposures should the gas ignite. They began metering the area, finding readings as high as 6% of the lower explosive limit, according to Tracy.

“Natural gas differs from propane in that it tends to rise and dissipate,” Tracy said, “so our primary concern was to limit ignition sources and people in the immediate area.”

A Southern Connecticut Gas crew responding from Stratford was able to plug the leak by 7:15 p.m., and Fairfield Fire Department placed a recall shortly thereafter, allowing homeowners of evacuated residences to reoccupy after fire personnel metered their homes for the presence of gas.

Incident Commander Chavenello and all but a single apparatus cleared the scene by 7:50 p.m., with Engine 2 remaining on the scene with Southern Connecticut Gas on a precautionary standby until all work was completed.

“We asked PD to send out another Reverse 911 call letting residents in the area know it was over,” said Chief Felner. “As always, the first responders did an excellent job keeping Fairfield safe.”

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