MA- By Stacey Hart / News Staff Writer
SUDBURY — A quick response from the Fire Department prevented a Austin Road home from going up in flames following a gas explosion yesterday morning.
Kathleen Wyman of 72 Austin Road woke up around 7 a.m. Tuesday to the smell of natural gas.
“I put my feet to the floor and heard a big boom,” she said. “I yelled to my daughter, we ran downstairs, got our coats, and as I was coming out the door I looked into the family room. The plaster on the wall had been blown out.”
As Wyman and her daughter Meghan, 23, ran across the street to call the Fire Department, they noticed the entire side of the house was in flames.
“We ran across the street, thinking and hoping it wouldn’t blow,” Wyman said.
Firefighters arrived at Wyman’s house a little more than three minutes after getting the call and were able to extinguish the fire quickly, said Fire Chief Michael Dunne.
The cause of the explosion is still under investigation, but Dunne said it appeared to be caused by the gas line leading to the house. Firefighters found a small hole in the heavy plastic gas line just before it reached the gas meter.
Next to the gas meter was a vent, which brought fresh air into the house when the furnace was running, Dunne said.
“The gas, as it was leaking right next to the meter, went into this vent and followed that vent to get into the house,” he said. “When the furnace came on (yesterday) at about 7:15 a.m., the whole pipe and part of the basement were full of gas fumes. Those ignited, and that was the explosion.”
Officials are unsure what caused the hole in the gas line, but they suspect it might have been rocks rubbing against it over the years. Dunne said it’s also possible a small amount of moisture in the gas caused the line to freeze and crack.
The fire was contained to the outside of the home, but the explosion itself caused some damage in the basement and the family room, which is located directly above the furnace.
Pipes leading to the furnace were melted in the explosion, and a fireplace mantel and window frame were pushed away from the wall, Wyman said. There is also some smoke damage.
“Really everything’s been contained outside. They had to replace the gas meter, it was burned,” she said.
If it wasn’t for the quick response by firefighters, Wyman said there could have been much more damage. “They were extraordinary. They saved our house,” she said.
Without excessive damage to the structure of the home, Wyman and her daughter were able to return inside about two hours after the incident.
“Thank God I have an oversensitive nose and woke up to the smell, and that we were home and the Fire Department got here so quickly,” Wyman said. “I can’t say enough about the Fire Department.”
Wyman never smelled gas around her house prior to yesterday morning.
“It was kind of a freak thing,” Dunne said. “It’s one of these things where there was a little gas leak outside and the vent was just in the right place.”