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.