Breaks in water main, gas line strike Overlea

Cardwell Avenue is evacuated

hundreds briefly lose services

October 24, 2004|By William Wan | William Wan,SUN STAFF

A water main break yesterday sent muddy water bubbling into the streets of Overlea, while a leaking gas line and two furnace fires prompted residents to scurry from their homes.

No one was injured, but at least 210 homes and 13 businesses lost water as authorities shut off the water main for repairs, said a city public works spokesman. The spokesman, Kurt L. Kocher, said water service had been restored about 8:30 p.m.

Gas was also shut off in at least 400 homes, according to the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.

Officials were searching for the cause of the breaks in the water and gas lines.

Police closed Belair Road from the Beltway to Taylor Avenue. Ramps leading from the Beltway to southbound Belair Road were also closed.

Police said early today that the road had been reopened.

Shortly before 11 a.m. on Cardwell Avenue, Philip Bisson heard his wife downstairs yell, "Get out!" and then, "Call 911!" The furnace in their basement had caught fire.

The couple escaped uninjured, but as they stood on the street, watching smoke pour out of their house, the Bissons realized their two cats were still in danger.

Bisson plunged back in and after a few minutes emerged with the cats in his arms.

Four houses down, another basement furnace also caught fire. By the time fire engines had arrived, neighbors within a 10-block radius were complaining of a strong odor of natural gas in their homes.

"I went to turn the gas valve off, and there was water spurting out of the gas pipe," said Bob Potter, 48, standing outside his house while officials turned off the neighborhood's gas lines.

He said he had seen water coming out of his neighbors' gas stove.

Police and firefighters evacuated residents on Cardwell Avenue into the street.

A block away, brown water gushed from the ground at Cardwell Avenue and Belair Road.

When workers pulled up the asphalt and turned off the water, workers found holes in the 8-inch water main. Just below it was a 6-inch gas main, also with holes.

About 90 firefighters, 12 engines and three ladder trucks responded to the incident, said Capt. Glenn Blackwell of the Baltimore County Fire Department.

By 2 p.m. residents were allowed back in their homes.

And by late afternoon, life on Cardwell Avenue had returned to "seminormal," said Bob Potter.

With no water or gas, the Potter family was planning to dine out.

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