SOMERS POINT – The overpowering smell of gas filled the air Monday afternoon when a ruptured gas pipe forced Somers Point Fire Dept. to evacuate the homes in the 200 and 300 blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue.
A private contractor was doing work on the driveway of a home at 209 Pennsylvania Ave. when a front end loader being used hit the gas line according to Deputy Fire Chief Jim Sweeney.
Somers Point Assistant Fire Capt. John Batty said the call came into the station at about 3:30 p.m. that the line had been struck. Batty said the firefighters knocked on all of the neighbors doors to get them to evacuate while the repair was made as a precaution. Residents were able to return to their homes around 4:30 p.m.
Crews from South Jersey Gas arrived on the scene, keeping onlookers a block away while a crew worked to turn off the gas to the block so the repair could be made. The sound of the gas rushing from the pipe stopped once the Gas Co. crew broke through the asphalt at Third and Pennsylvania avenues to access the turn off valve.
The Wyatt family of 212 Pennsylvania Avenue said firefighters came into the house and instructed them to leave quickly. Nancy Wyatt, just returning home from her job at the Windham Hotel in Atlantic City said that it was unnerving to be out of the house and she was looking forward to getting back in her home and checking on the family’s dog and cats.
Kate Wyatt, who teaches violin at Hambros Music in Northfield, had to cancel her students for the evening because she could not get to her car to make her lessons on time. Meanwhile the neighbor, Joe McDonald was very anxious because his wife was still in the couple’s home at 211 Pennsylvania Ave. “She is a very slow walker and has a hard time moving so she stayed in the house. I want to get back in to let her know everything is ok,” McDonald said.
Pennsylvania Avenue closed to traffic at 3:30 p.m. and crews expected to be on scene for several hours repairing the gas line.