Somerset, MA – One woman was killed Thursday evening when an explosion felt by residents miles away leveled one home and damaged at least two others in Somerset, authorities said.
William Meehan, chairman of the town’s board of selectmen, said Thursday evening investigators believe the middle-aged woman, whose name was not immediately released, was alone except for a dog that also was killed. He said investigators are still examining the rubble.
“It is total destruction over there,” Meehan said at a news conference, with debris strewn in the street and at least two other homes damaged.
“It looked like a twister had gone through there,” he said.
Meehan said a natural gas leak is suspected as a cause of the 6:30 p.m. blast on New York Avenue. He said one firefighter suffered a minor injury.
Crews from the New England Gas Co, which serves Somerset, were in the area before the blast, Meehan said. A company spokesman did not immediately return telephone and e-mail messages seeking comment.
Residents were evacuated from nearby homes to a temporary shelter at an elementary school. Meehan was not sure exactly how many people were relocated and he suspected many of them may need to stay the night.
David M. Cucinotta and his wife had just finished dinner when they were felt the explosion.
“There was just one big bang. We knew something was wrong,” he said. “The house shook.”
Stunned neighbors walked outside trying to figure out what happened.
Cucinotta’s wife spotted a blaze on a nearby street, and he and a neighbor went to investigate. He saw heavy flames before arriving police officers began evacuating the block.
Ed Pacheco, who lives about 1,000 feet from destroyed house, said a New England Gas truck came to his home last week to investigate a gas odor, and has had other trucks in the neighborhood recently. The unemployed road construction worker said he has noticed the odor on daily walks in the neighborhood. “Every once in a while, I’ll get a whiff of it,” he said.
Fire Marshall Steven Coan said his office is investigating the explosion.
A house explosion in Scituate on Dec. 17 killed 45-year-old David Kupris and heavily damaged several nearby homes. A Gloucester police officer was injured when his home exploded on Jan. 25. Natural gas leaks were investigated in both incidents.