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Gas line break in Canton forces some evacuations

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CANTON — Road construction workers cut through a natural gas line this morning near the intersection of East Main Street and Hillside Drive, forcing the evacuation of several homes and Vilas Hall at St. Lawrence University.

Crews from Luck Bros. Inc., Plattsburgh, were digging as part of the Route 11 reconstruction project when they apparently struck the line about 9:30 a.m.

The stub of a capped, abandoned St. Lawrence Gas Co. line was protruding from a four inch main that state Department of Transportation Project Engineer Thomas A. Maroun said crews were digging along.

“We had located all of the major lines and when we were going along the four-inch main we encountered the stub and the bucket hooked the side,” Mr. Maroun said.

Due to the winds after the initial contact with the abandoned line, gas was carried around the area and Mr. Maroun said an evacuation of a 500-foot radius was necessary, including employees working in the Vilas Hall administration building on the SLU campus who were directed by campus security staff to leave the building.

Crew members at the scene said the gas line has been shut off and the evacuation was undertaken as precautionary measure.

Families in the area that were evacuated from their homes were invited to the Canton Free Library, through their Facebook page, to enjoy free movies while they waited to gain access to their homes.

“For those of you displaced by the gas leak in Canton, we’re putting some children’s movies on in the community room. Come and shelter here!” the post read.

Two Canton Fire Department trucks were at the scene as well as a St. Lawrence Gas Co. truck and the Canton police department.

Crews from St. Lawrence Gas Co. are in the process of welding the broken, abandoned line shut and work was expected to be complete by 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Families were allowed to return to their homes and Vilas Hall employees returned to work, Mr. Maroun said Wednesday, but gas is still turned off and crews will investigate the area again before turning the gas back on.

No one was injured during the incident, Canton police reported. Flaggers from the state Department of Transportation were restricting vehicles and pedestrians from the area.

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