In what was described as “a miracle,” a fire caused by a ruptured gas line that set off an emergency evacuation caused no injuries and left homes with only minor damage.
Township committee member and police liaison Meir Lichtenstein, who was on the scene soon after the incident was reported, said that the fact everyone emerged from the incident unscathed was no less than miraculous.
“Nissim venifla’os, that’s the only way to explain it,” he told Hamodia. “Our first responders rushed in and … did what they had to [to] get everybody out of there fast, but this was clearly [the] work of Hakadosh Baruch Hu.”
The blaze that erupted at around 8 a.m. near Forest Avenue and Second Street towered up and could be seen from a distance as emergency vehicles rushed to the area and helicopters thundered overhead. The scene created a buzz in the neighborhood, located only minutes away from the central campus of Beth Medrash Govoha.
As firefighters extinguished the blaze, police, Hatzolah and other first responders coordinated an evacuation of over 30 homes that might have trapped escaped gas from the leak.
“It’s terrifying to rush into to such a scene,” said Mr. Lichtenstein. “You run in as you hear the gas whooshing out and know that you’re evacuating people because of how volatile the situation is and that every step you take is at great risk. … They certainly deserve a lot of thanks.”
A contractor who, according to reports, was installing a sewer line, seems to have accidentally hit the gas line while working underground. Workers heard the rush of gas and immediately fled the scene. Apparently a spark or other source of flame from the motor of a nearby truck ignited the fire.
An emergency crew from New Jersey Natural Gas turned off the line shortly before 9 a.m. Around the same time, firefighters contained and then extinguished the conflagration.
Gas and other utilities were shut off while the area was being secured and homes checked for the presence of dangerous emissions. A small number of houses sustained damage from the fire, but most had only their exteriors affected.
By midday gas, electricity and other services had been restored to nearly all evacuated homes; others were expected to get utilities back by the end of the day.