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Aug 8, 2016 10:26 AM

People evacuated from area around Portsmouth gas leak

PORTSMOUTH- Portsmouth Fire Department said that people have been evacuated after a construction accident caused a "significant gas leak" in the city.

Fire Department deputy chief Jim Heinz said Monday morning that construction in the area of Columbia Street and State Street west of the city center broke a gas main.

Heinz called the leak "significant," said Portsmouth Police and the fire department have streets in the area shut down. Unitil utility workers are on the scene working to shut down the gas and restore service. Representatives from the city's housing authority are also on the scene.

Heinz said the gas, which is lighter than air, is dissipating and fire crews are standing by to secure any ignition source that may threaten the leak.

The city is receiving mutual aid from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Heinz said he expects the situation to be under control soon, and advised travelers to stay away from the area.

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