Smell of natural gas prompts evacuation

MARBLEHEAD — Marblehead police evacuated several homes in the Phillips Street, Longfellow Road and Orchard Street and Locust Street neighborhood as a precaution after a woman walking her dog smelled natural gas in the area around 11:30 Wednesday morning.

The woman called 911 and the Marblehead Fire Department and National Grid gas representatives responded, and discovered dangerously high gas meter readings, said Marblehead police. Additional fire crews were sent out and high gas levels were slowly and safely ventilated from two homes directly affected by the gas leak through the work of emergency responders.

The roads in the area were also closed to traffic and pedestrians. Marblehead Municipal Electric Light Department crews responded and temporarily shut off power to the neighborhood, police said. Power was restored to the neighborhood around 1:30 p.m. and the evacuated residents were able to return to their homes.

Natural gas is odorless and colorless, but an additive mixed with the gas gives it the smell of rotten eggs. Police cautioned residents to call 911 if they smell the odor so a similar response can be initiated.

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