Gas leak prompts evacuations on State, Bank streets and power outages

New London — Fire crews closed parts of Bank and State streets after a "severe" gas leak was reported Wednesday afternoon at a building on the corner of the two streets, and the surrounding area was evacuated.

Mitch Gross, Eversource spokesman, said that power had been shut off throughout the entire city of New London, with 10,537 losing electricity. It was turned back on in some areas but not others, leaving at one point "just over 8,800 customers throughout New London without power, which is about 64 percent of the city." There were also outages in Waterford — affecting some 1,600, or 16 percent of, customers there — as well as 58 customers in Montville.

As of 4:40 p.m., power had been restored to customers affected in New London, Waterford and Montville, Gross said.

He said that though it was deemed safe enough to restore power to the city, crews continued working on gas line repairs for "a while longer."

New London Fire Chief Tom Curcio said construction crews working in a building at 9 Bank St. accidentally cut a gas line in the basement of one of those buildings. "Natural gas was dumping into the building and other surrounding buildings," he said.

Curcio said that all the buildings along State Street from Bank Street to Eugene O’Neill Drive had been evacuated because of the severity of the leak, as well as buildings on Bank Street from the corner of State Street to Golden Street.

He said gas levels in those buildings were too high, "at explosive levels."

Curcio said crews had secured the gas line and stopped the leak and that Eversource electric crews were escorted through heavy traffic by Waterford police to shut off power to the surrounding area.

Curcio said crews were working in the area for several hours, securing basements and parts of the building. He said the crews tested the air in the area and fire crews were able to leave about 5 p.m., allowing people to reoccupy the structures.

m.biekert@theday.com

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