Natural gas blast disrupts Ohio community
FAIRPORT HARBOR, Ohio — Built-up pressure in natural gas lines caused a house explosion, a series of fires, and a brief evacuation order on a frigid morning yesterday for an Ohio village of about 3,000 people, none of whom appeared to be injured.
At least 15 fires were reported in homes, apartments, and other buildings in Fairport Harbor, a lakefront village on Lake Erie about 30 miles northeast of Cleveland. All had been extinguished by midafternoon, said Tom Talcott, deputy fire chief in nearby Mentor.
The fires left several structures uninhabitable, Talcott said. Officials were still checking homes in late afternoon to make sure no gas built up in unoccupied ones during the day.
Temperatures were well below freezing and residents who evacuated went to a community center. Jeff Zidonis, spokesman for Dominion East Ohio gas company, couldn’t say whether the cold was a factor in the pressure problems that led to the explosion.
An evacuation had been ordered because the Fire Department was overwhelmed by calls reporting gas odors and could not respond to all of them.