- A natural gas explosion leveled a house on D Street this morning,
forcing city officials to evacuate a 2.5-block area in the
No one was
injured in the explosion, which occurred around 9 a.m., said South
Portland Fire Department spokesman, Lt. Robb Couture. He said the
building was unoccupied and undergoing renovation.
blew an exterior stairwell off a nearby building and shattered
several windows, including one at 44 C Street, where Rocco Lee, 59,
a disabled Vietnam veteran, was just falling
Photo courtesy of Lloyd W. Alexander
down the remains of a home destroyed in a natural gas explosion.
"I thought I
was back in Vietnam for a minute," said Lee, a neighborhood resident
He and other residents remained outside the evacuation
zone this morning as officials continued to search for the source of
an underground leak.
of 51 D Street, said he heard a loud explosion, looked out the door,
and saw construction workers running down the street and pounding on
"My wife and I ran out, literally with the clothes on our backs," he
A neighbor, Bryan Davis, of 55 D Street, said he was just getting
into the shower when he heard "a loud bang." " I looked out the
window and saw someone pounding the door, yelling 'get out, get
Downstairs, Davis saw the pictures had been blown off his walls. He
ran out into the street, then realized he had left without Buddy,
the mixed-breed lab he is watching for a neighbor who is out of
So he ran back inside to get the dog.
"He was a little shaken up," Davis said.
He and Bruton said utility workers had come to their homes earlier
in the morning to check for gas leaks in their basements.
Bruton said workers from Risbara Construction have been digging up D
street for about a week, working on water mains.
He said the pavement in front of his house was torn up just this
"The funny thing is, I had looked out the window this morning and
asked my wife how they could do that without shutting the gas off."
A gas leak had been reported at the building about an hour before
the explosion, and the fire department responded along with Northern
Utilities, the gas company.
Couture said the fire department cleared the scene after Northern
Utilities inspected the site. The neighborhood was not evacuated at
that time so people were still in their homes and nearby businesses
when the blast occurred.
Firefighters initially evacuated the entire Knightville area between
Broadway and E Street but the area was reduced to the two blocks on
of the building.
Workers located the leak and capped it around 3:15 p.m., said
He said power was restored in some areas, but not on D Street, and
evacuated residents had not been allowed to return to their homes
Couture said officials needed more time to investigate the explosion
and remove debris. He said officials hoped residents would be
allowed back into their homes later tonight.
The one and a half-story house that was destroyed, 43D Street, was
built in 1890 and was listed by the city as worth about $100,000.
The city lists the house as owned by the Notis Family Trust, which
is located on Ocean Street in South Portland.
Couture said the State Fire Marshal's Office would likely join the
Staff writers David Hench and Trevor Maxwell contributed to this
2007 Blethen Maine Newspapers
with permission from the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday