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Gas main erupts into flames on Hyde Park Avenue; three utility workers injured, nearby homes evacuated

Flaming gas main on Hyde Park Avenue

Flaming gas main. Photo by BFD.

UPDATE, 10 p.m. Fire still burning. BFD says problem is that shutting off gas would leave many residents without heat, adds, "This scene is expected to be active well into tomorrow."

Around 6:10 p.m. in front of 340 Hyde Park Ave., across from Pagel Playground.

Three National Grid workers were burned when the ten-inch main caught fire and were taken to the hospital, the Boston Fire Department reports.

Ed Gryzb reports:

They’ve been doing construction there all day. I smelled gas as I drove by about an hour ago.

The main was exposed in an 8x5 hole.

Firefighters went to nearby houses to turn off their gas. Around 7:50 p.m., the Fire Department evacuated nearby homes - after having MBTA buses brought in to provide shelter.

The fire was still burning at 8:34 p.m.

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Oh no! I just started hearing the helicopter overhead and came on here to find out what is going on. Very scary. I hope the utility workers will be ok.

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One of BFD’s tweets said they were pouring sand on it to try and extinguish the fire. Totally ignorant (not snarky) question: why not just turn off the main for an hour or so. Presumably there is some reason that’s not viable, just curious if the resident experts on infrastructure/construction know.

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They said normally they would turn the gas main off but so many homes (I forget the number but it was a lot) would be affected for a few hours on this icy cold night.

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The BFD tweeted the following, which made sense:

Boston Fire Dept.
‏Verified account @BostonFire (https://twitter.com/BostonFire)
1h1 hour ago

The dilemma at this incident is shutting the gas off would create many many households without heat. All on scene working for that not to happen. Mayors Office of Neighborhood Services and Mayors Office of Emergency Management also on scene with BFD, BPD & BEMS

I hope everyone will be okay. Scary!

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First they need to determine the best shut off valve feeding the fire area that will impact the fewest homes. At least one report seems to suggest that shutting this main off could impact thousands in this area. They have already evacuated nearby homes and are periodically checking them for gas seeping into the homes from underground.

Once the gas is off, the gas company has to send a crew out to each individual home that was impacted to shut off the gas at the meter. In those instances where the meter is inside they will need to gain entry, and possibly forced entry with BPD present.

Once all of the meters are off, they can then repair the leak and restore gas. The gas company then needs to go to each home to manually light pilot lights on stoves, furnaces, gas water heaters, and dryers. While some may have electric ignition, some older homes may not, and still have permanently lit pilots which would cause a gas build up if not lit-off and tested. The gas company has no stats on which homes have older appliances and furnaces so they have to treat all of them the same. Each gas stove, furnace, hot water heater, and dryer will then have to be run to make sure the line is clear of any air and the burners are safely lighting.

Depending on the number of dwellings impacted they would have to bring in an army of gas workers or temporarily contract a horde of licensed plumbers to restore service -- one -- meter -- at -- a -- time.

In the meantime it is near zero-F and there are already many instances of burst pipes and other frozen pipes throughout the region due to the record-setting temps. If the restoration takes too long the city will have to find shelter for the displaced families, pets, etc.

Worse case scenario -- it could take days. Hopefully they will; work it out and down to a few hours.

In any event you can kiss off that section of Hyde Park Ave for the next few days easily.

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And people want to INCREASE our collective dependence on this creaky 20th century energy source? The utilities can't apparently maintain safely what they've got. Mr Dodge of New Engkand Petroleum Council in COMMONWEALTH MAGAZINE is writing how we need MORE gas pipelines.

Zero Carbon lectricity and air source heat pumps are the future.

Note also that northetn Alberta in Canada, a placed used to cold, is having its own natural gas emergency ... Homes there cannot heat because compressors and natural gas pipelines are failing due to cold.

These kinds of extreme contrasts will only increase as more Arctic ice is lost.

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I heard coal is making a come back.

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You will get a different story....

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This is happening at the end of my block. As of this morning, it's still going!

As one of the 8,000 households who would be affected, I am grateful for everyone's work on this so that they didn't need to turn off our gas.

No buses/traffic on the stretch of HPA between Walk Hill Street and Cummins Hwy.

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