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Gas leak evacuates buildings in downtown Buffalo

Thomas O'Neil-White

A gas leak in downtown Buffalo Friday lead to the evacuation of several buildings and shut down a section of Swan Street. The leak occurred around 10:30 a.m. National Fuel was conducting maintenance work outside of 284 Main Street when they cracked an old gas line.

The valve to shut off the gas malfunctioned, sending gas into the adjacent building.  The Erie County Department of Social Services was one of the evacuated buildings.

“We don’t have an exact number,” said Buffalo Fire Division Chief Daniel Bossi, of the evacuees. “I talked to Ellicott Development and they said anywhere up to 500 can be in the building at any one time. Being a holiday week, they think the number is closer to 150 to 200 that were evacuated.”

Bossi said most of the gas was able to escape outside but enough of it entered the closest building prompting the evacuation.

“It was underground, heading into the building,” Bossi said. “We just happened to have a vault in that area.”

Buildings at 290 Main Street were also evacuated. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz tweeted the apartments at 298 Main had also been evacuated.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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