Quick action mitigates Oxford gas leak

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OXFORD – A landscaping mishap caused a propane leak that forced evacuations near 163 Black Island Road on Thursday afternoon.

According to Fire Capt. Shawn Cordwell, a Bobcat tractor accidentally backed into the protective housing for a 1,000-pound underground propane tank, breaking a pressure relief cap.

Cordwell said residents in nearby homes were drawn by the loud hissing sound of the gas bleeding off, and subsequently told to get away from the area by the landscaping company. He said the landscapers shut down electricity and equipment on the site to prevent any potential ignition source.

“They did a phenomenal job,” Cordwell said. “Had they not done that the outcome could have been different.”

Firefighters from Oxford, Poland and Mechanic Falls were dispatched to the scene. AmeriGas was later brought in to repair the damage.

Cordwell said that except for some residual pressure, the tank had finished venting when Oxford firefighters arrived on the scene.

Following their arrival, the departments monitored air in the houses near the leak to ensure that the air quality was safe. Cordwell said residents were not displaced for more than 20 minutes.

The landscaping was being done for a new home about 50 feet from the release. Other homes were “a couple hundred feet” from the gas leak, according to Cordwell. He said Bartow Construction was the general contractor for the project, but was unaware what landscaping company was on the land at the time.

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