Hundreds Of Customers Without Power

MAMARONECK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Con Edison crews were repairing a damaged natural gas line that ruptured early Tuesday morning after a downed wire sparked a massive fire in Mamaroneck.

It happened around 1 a.m. at the intersection of Mamaroneck and Winfield avenues. Resident George Kiriazides said he was up late working in his home office when he heard a “significant boom.”

“At that point, I looked out and I see the power line creating a lot of sparks,” he told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.

Kiriazides said he ran outside and found his cars on fire.

Firefighters said it was a lightning strike that brought down the live wires, which then set off a series of events.

“We pulled up it was minor, one wire down, something we deal with all the time,” Mamaroneck Fire Chief Robert Pecchio told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown. “Then it turned into a car fire, then a fully involved car fire, two fully involved car fires, three car fires and almost a house fire and then we realized that natural gas was burning in the ground.”

The 13,000 volts from the downed wire melted the pavement and burned directly into a natural gas line underground. It took Con Edison crews hours to find the valve and turn off the line.

In the meantime, the flames helped keep the gas from finding another ignition source and possibly sparking an explosion.

“The flames were so high,” said neighbor Cathy Munz. “I was afraid the house was going to go on fire.”

Once the gas line was turned off, firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze. Crews ventilated houses in the immediate area, but said it would be several hours before Kiriazides would be allowed back inside.

No one was injured in the incident, but officials said had the timing been different the results could have been serious, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported.

“Thankfully it was the middle of the night and there were no people on the street,” Con Ed Spokesman Allan Drury said. “That is a lot of electricity that was going through the wire that came down.”

Con Ed said crews were to replace the power line and the gas main that were destroyed. Incidents like this one are not unheard of. Three years ago in Croton a gas main ignited with similar results. There were no injuries reported in that incident either.

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