ORONO — An excavator struck a natural gas line causing a leak that led to the evacuation of an apartment complex on Mill Street and some anxious moments for tenants on Wednesday, Oct. 2.

The gas line near the Hasbrouck Court apartment complex was quickly repaired by Bangor Natural Gas personnel and no injuries were reported. More than a dozen tenants had to leave their apartments and people were told to avoid the area while the repair work was completed, according to Orono Deputy Fire Chief Rob St. Louis.

A worker called 9-1-1 to report the cut gas line around noon, leading to a response from the Orono fire department as well as departments from Bangor and Old Town, along with police and emergency personnel.

Last month’s propane explosion in Farmington that leveled a building, killing one firefighter and injuring eight other people, was very much on the minds of tenants and those responding, according to St. Louis.

“Occupants of the building had seen media coverage of Farmington, so there were no long conversations about leaving,” St. Louis said. “We know what happened there. We’re always cautious with these kind of incidents. We made sure we had enough resources coming in.”

St. Louis said Bangor Gas personnel responded within 10 minutes of being called and tenants were allowed to return to their apartments about 20 minutes after the repair work was completed. Firefighters first checked the building to make sure any gas had dissipated.

“If you smell gas, don’t turn on any lights or use your cell phone, get out of the building,” St. Louis said. “Call 9-1-1 and don’t go back inside until we get there and determine it is safe to do so.”

St. Louis said he did not know the name of the company doing the excavation work on the apartment property or whether it followed “Dig Safe” protocols.


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