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Explosion in Readville destroys one home, damages others

Remains of a house: Photo by Boston Fire Department.Remains of a house: Photo by Boston Fire Department.

A Readville home was completely destroyed in a fireball this morning when a backhoe being used by contractors for the Boston Water and Sewer Commission hit a natural-gas main out front.

Boston Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald says a contractor doing water-main work in the neighborhood was digging up the street at Danny and Reynold roads with a backhoe around 8:30 a.m. when he not only hit the gas main, but pulled it up - with such force it pulled the house's gas meter off the wall. The house immediately began filling with gas, and two workers ran up and began banging on the door to try to get anybody inside out. They were just heading back down the stairs when the house exploded, he said.

He said two people live in the house - one was on vacation and one was at work. He added it's amazing nobody in the surrounding area was hurt. A second house may have also been damaged beyond repair and the force of the explosion not only shattered windows, it pushed entire window frames into buildings for a couple of blocks around. A detail cop was in his car, moving it at the request of the contractors, when the house exploded.

MacDonald said investigators from a variety of city and state agencies are on scene trying to determine how the contractors managed to hit the main - a key question is whether they contacted DigSafe, which provides gas-main information for people digging up streets, and if so, if they were told about the specific main. The explosion caused an estimated $1 million in damage to the neighborhood, he said.

Residents of some 30 nearby homes were evacuated. MacDonald said they are slowly being let back in as NStar - which provides gas in that area - checks each home.

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Comments

"No injuries have been reported, but police are conducting a search of area homes to make sure no one has been hurt and is unable to summon help as a result."

Right, because so many people could have been injured inside their perfectly intact houses? Why are police searching inside private homes that weren't involved? It's not like people were overcome with emotion and rendered unable to walk out their door. And why are police doing the search, instead of the firemen, who actually have medical training?

Lamest excuse for a fishing expedition, ever.

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They're looking at every house with gas, to check their line, AND the vibrations were HUGE. My dining set fell over onto my table when this happened, I could have been under that.

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I suspect that "conducting a search of area homes" does not mean "breaking into places and having a look-see", it probably means "going door to door and looking to make sure the house is in fact intact, and not full of explosion debris and injured people."

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and may hit their head. What is the big deal about just going around knocking on doors? It isn't like they are breaking down doors or windows or anything.

They aren't searching peoples underwear drawers for cyring out loud.

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... since the firefighters are still working on the hot spots, and it took a while for NStar to get the gas shut off for the surrounding block.

You want to do a wellness/occupancy check on every area structure to contain the damage to the destroyed property. Yes, they're all private property, which would be worth considerably less if any of them blow up too.

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HOLY COW.
I was in bed when this happened and everything started to rattle! Then all you heard were sirens and shortly after the T.V helicopters, theres one literally flying over me now. Plus, when you looked out my bedroom window you could see the huge blue flames-- and I live 5 streets away from this home.
I hope that everyone is okay, and good luck to that family.

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what time did this happen?

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Around 8:30 a.m.

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Having my home either go up in flames or explode, whether occupied or vacant (though obviously, one is far more serious than the other). Does anyone know what the regulations are that dictate regular gasline checks, i.e. how often, state-regulated or private, etc.?

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Boston Police says a construction crew was digging there, so sounds like they hit the gas main, rather than, say, the pipe spontaneously exploding.

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Construction crew hits pipe, yanks it, causes it to detach inside the home. A break outside in the street doesn't cause a house to explode.

This is how the house in Weston exploded a couple years ago...a crew doing septic work yanked on the pipe with a backhoe, it pulled the connection loose in the basement, and the basement filled with gas. Soon as an electrical device in the basement switched on, kaboom. The house was leveled.

Then there was the house in Gloucester that was leveled; residents said they'd been reporting gas smells for months.

The other cause: idiot gas crews screwing up the gas regulators, causing gross overpressure in the residential lines. Happened in another metrowest town, last year...Lincoln? I forget. They had to evacuate blocks of houses, check every house's meter/regulator, and all the gas appliances, house by house, because they tampered with a regulator's setting and caused high-pressure gas to go into the low-pressure street lines.

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that happened about a quarter mile from my desk. the windows rattled and i though there was an earthquake.

had a gas smell in my hood a few months back. the gas co came and checked a bunch of stuff and sprayed some markings. i came home the next day and smelled gas again. called FD and told them, two minutes later they were at my house. i guess its standard practice anytime they get a call for gas fumes, they come check it out.

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OK, I just had a letter put into my door about a community meeting concerning the explosion today.
It will be at the Hyde Park Municipal Building (1179 River street) Thursday November 4 at 6:30pm. City agencies and all relevant utilities will be attending to address concerns and provide information. For any questions about this meeting you can call the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services at: 617-635-3485.

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