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Gas line inferno forces evacuation, traffic shutdown

Updated 5:33 pm, Friday, June 21, 2013

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  • Flames leap from a leaking, underground natural-gas line Friday morning on Westfair Drive, not far off Post Road East. Westport firefighters were able to douse the fire after gas to the line was turned off. Traffic was diverted off of Post Road for more than 90 minutes. Photo: Contributed Photo / Westport News
    Flames leap from a leaking, underground natural-gas line Friday morning on Westfair Drive, not far off Post Road East. Westport firefighters were able to douse the fire after gas to the line was turned off. Traffic was diverted off of Post Road for more than 90 minutes. Photo: Contributed Photo

 

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A natural gas line ruptured by construction workers on Westfair Drive erupted into towering flames Friday morning, prompting officials to evacuate nearby buildings and shut down traffic on a stretch of Post Road East.

Firefighters on Engine 2 were flagged down about 10:30 a.m. Friday by a construction crew working on a 2-inch, high-pressure gas line in Westfair Drive that developed a leak and caught fire.

The flames spewing from the gas line were reported to be 20 feet in diameter at one point, according to firefighters.

Additional fire crews were dispatched to the scene, where several trees, a pickup truck and the workers' tools were damaged by the fire.

Evacuation of buildings in the immediate area was ordered, and traffic on Post Road East was cut off between Bulkley and Maple avenues.

Southern Connecticut Gas shut off the gas feed to the ruptured line, and firefighters were then able to douse debris still burning near the work site. The gas main shutdown affected three commercial buildings in the immediate area, firefighters said.

No injuries among the construction workers or firefighters were reported, according to the fire report.

Two engines, a truck company and several staff vehicles were dispatched by the Fire Department to the scene, with a total of 13 firefighters.