NORWALK, Conn. – You don’t often get three press releases in one day from the Norwalk Fire Department – especially about the same incident.
But that’s exactly what happened Tuesday after a 911 caller reported an explosion and a strong odor of gas at 17 Chestnut St.
There was no explosion, fire marshals say, just something that sounded like an explosion. But it took a while to get those facts in order.
The first press release said there had been an explosion. Then there were two “Hey wait, we have a correction” emails sent about the gas leak. Finally, three hours after the first press release, fire marshals sent out an amended version: the gas leak did not cause an explosion that caused the roof to implode. The roof imploded, causing a gas leak …
But that wasn’t the end of it. An hour and a half after that announcement, Chief Denis McCarthy sent out the final press release, which can be summarized thusly: “Please tell everyone there was no gas explosion. Please! No ignition of any type! Make sure you let people know!”
OK. For the record: Holes in the roof at an old tie factory at 17 Chestnut St. allowed rain and debris to accumulate on the second floor, which gave way. Falling debris made a loud noise – sounded like an explosion – and landed on a gas meter – hence, the dangerous gas leak.
“It was the collapse of the second floor which caused the gas leak,” Deputy Fire Marshal Christian Hansen said in the second to last press release. “The already weak structure was further compromised by the recent heavy rain and winds.”
And, they are planning to knock down that old thing soon, Hansen said.
Firefighters shut off the gas meter and Yankee Gas workers shut off the gas at the street, he said. All electrical power was shut off to the building and the Norwalk Building Department also came by to check things out.
McCarthy’s final words on the topic:
“Please note that despite how this incident was reported to the city; investigations by the Norwalk Fire Marshal’s Office and confirmed by independent examination by Yankee Gas has determined that no explosion occurred. There was no ignition of any type. Please be sure that all future reports clarify this point. The gas leak was caused by a partial roof collapse and that noise most likely was the sound heard by the original caller to 911.”