New Haven Gas Main Break Prompts Evacuations

Several streets in New Haven were blocked off and more than 60 people were evacuated from their homes after a construction crew hit a 6-inch gas main in the area of Howe and Elm streets and Broadway.

Three buildings were evacuated around 1 a.m. on Monday after reports of a strong gas smell in the area. The residents were brought to a hotel and have since been allowed to return to their homes.

"It was sort of scary at 1 o'clock in the morning," said Michael Robinson, a Yale University student. "I was actually sleeping ... when a firefighter knocks on the door and said everyone has to leave the building."

He is one of several people who said the smell was bad.

"You stepped outside and there was just a strong odor of gas. First it was sort of contained over here and then it started to spread down there and even toward campus," Robinson said.

At least 60 evacuees were brought to a nearby hotel for the night, according to fire officials.

Judy Pitcher owns an apartment building and helped get her tenants to a hotel.

"My people are specials needs, so that was kind of difficult, waking them all up and getting them all out and making them understand they had to leave," she said. 

The gas company has sealed the leak so repairs on the main can begin. Officials plan to continue to monitor the area.

Firefighters sprayed water on the affected buildings to keep the strong gas vapors from spreading. 

"We were using the stream as a fog pattern to control the vapors because we wanted them to go to an area where there weren't people," Assistant Fire Chief Ralph Black said.

Crews focused on patching up the hole, which was completed as of 8:30 a.m.

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