Gas main break starts 40-foot fire

June 21, 2012 9:30:29 PM PDT
Fire fueled by natural gas is always an unwelcome scenario for firefighters, but on a scorching evening it was a little too much. For over an hour-and a-half, emergency crews battled 40-foot flames in Nyack.

For months, utility workers have been upgrading gas mains in downtown Nyack. On Thursday afternoon, subcontractors hired by Orange and Rockland were working on a section of pipe without realizing a safety valve failed, sending natural gas flowing in their direction.

Utility crews shut off the supply, but firefighters had to wait for the residual gas to burn off. Several workers were overcome by heat exhaustion. In the meantime, businesses shut down, and dozens of residents in two apartment buildings were evacuated.

Power was cut to another 200 residents who were facing the prospect a long hot night without fans or air conditioning.

All in all, eight people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries in an incident that could have been much worse.

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