On the afternoon of Wednesday, February 19, residents and business owners were put into a frenzy after construction crews working along Main Street mistakenly struck a high-pressure gas main, causing widespread street closures and evacuations in the Kew Gardens Hills neighborhood.
The mishap occurred just past 68th Drive on the main road outside of Seasons Supermarket, just before noon, causing nearby businesses and schools to evacuate as a precaution. Main Street was shuttered in both directions, between Melbourne Avenue and Jewel Avenue, until the all-clear was given and all personnel disbursed, around 2 p.m. that afternoon.
“It smells like you left the gas running on the stove for hours on end,” said Steven, a resident of 69th Avenue, standing outside of his home.
As the event unfolded, video footage went viral of Queens Hatzolah volunteer members evacuating sifrei Torah from the Jewish Heritage Center, located just across from the scene, into an awaiting vehicle.
The Main Street bus routes were also disturbed, causing major delays along Jewel Avenue. The FDNY set up a staging area in the bus stop at Main Street and Jewel Avenue, just outside of Bagel Boss. EMS was on the ready to assist, should the need arise. The Fire Department led the investigation and used all available resources to protect the area.
Councilman Rory Lancman announced on Facebook shortly after 1 p.m. that “about 50 people have been evacuated from 68-22 through 68-50 Main Street,” after a construction contractor hit the natural gas line.
Around 1:15 p.m., firefighters announced that there appeared to be no sign of elevated gas levels around the scene of the rupture, and declared the area to be “under control.”
The Citizen App was quick to jump onto the case with nearby passersby posting videos of the unfolding events from the Mobil gas station to 68th Drive. No injuries were reported following the incident, and Con Edison emergency crews arrived within 20 minutes and worked to close the main gas line, averting what could have been a major devastation.
By Shabsie Saphirstein