The Utica Fire Department and National Grid Crews responded to a natural gas fire on Broad Street early Friday morning. Numerous members of the fire department were able to contain the fire to the roof and west side of Pacemaker Steel & Piping.
One of the big concerns was not knowing if the gas leak was spreading to surrounding buildings. All structures in the area were checked and cleared. The fire continued to burn for over eight hours, but it was left to burn deliberately. Utica Fire Chief John Kelly explains why.
"Once we extinguish the fire the natural gas will just continue to build up, and if it finds another ignition source it could ignite again with catastrophic results, so in a situation like this we’re much better off having the gas actually burning so we can control it. We know where it is and we can keep it in check with our hose lines."
It took National Grid crews until around 1:45 to completely shut the gas off. Fire Crews were then able to extinguish the remaining flames inside the building.
There was one firefighter who suffered a leg injury at the fire, but no other injuries were reported. Gas and electric has been restored to most of the surrounding area.
Fire investigators are still looking for the cause of the fire but say while the fire remains under investigation, they have ruled out the any employee error at Pacemaker Steel & Piping.