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Cause of Salem manhole explosion under investigation

Posted by Bella Travaglini  August 2, 2010 12:25 PM

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National Grid crews today are working to repair a minor gas leak at Washington and Harbor streets in the wake of a manhole explosion Saturday night, according to a spokesman for the utility.

The leak was detected as National Grid began an investigation into the Saturday night explosion at Crombie and Essex streets, which affected three manholes along Essex Street.

“It has not been determined that there is a direct link or if the two are related,” said Amy Zorich of National Grid.

The Salem Fire Department responded to several 911 emergency calls around 10:45 p.m. on Saturday, said Deputy Fire Chief James Lynch. There were two explosions, Lynch said. The first, believed to be an electrical fire, at Sewall Street and the second at the intersection of Essex and Crombie streets.

“I’m told the second explosion actually lifted the manhole cover," said Lynch this morning.

There were no injuries reported, said Lynch.

One explosion at the Crombie and Essex street intersection Saturday night affected three others along Essex street, said Zorich, and electricity for 1,100 customers in the area was shut down. Power was restored to all customers by midnight Sunday, said Zorich. Gas service was not turned off following the explosion since no immediate threat was determined, said Zorich. National Grid provides both gas and electricity to Salem, said Zorich.

The gas leak at Washington and Harbor streets is part of the same gas line that feeds Essex Street, said Zorich.

While the leak is being repaired today, National Grid continues its investigation into the cause, said Zorich. She expects that investigation to be completed by sometime tomorrow.

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