Pawtucket fire crews respond to multiple incidents that started underground

by James Swierzbin


A gas leak and an underground fire sparked by an exploding transformer, kept emergency crews in Pawtucket very busy Friday afternoon.

Both of these incidents happened below ground, but they weren't related, happening miles apart.

The first incident happened at the old American Insulated Wire factory complex at around 3:30 on Friday afternoon, after witnesses say construction crews demolishing a building in the complex, hit a gas line.

“It was 3:30 and I came and there were fire trucks everywhere.” said Pawtucket resident Marissa Arena.

Arena and her neighbors around the complex, along with people who were inside the complex, had to be evacuated, as National Grid crews got the gas line patched.

David Haworth came to the complex to use the batting cages inside, when the leak happened.

“I smelled some kind of gas and I got dizzy a little bit kinda lightheaded and then I saw the National Grid people and the cops closed the street off.” said Haworth.

During the time the gas line was being repaired, there was another underground issue, this one clear across the city.

At around 4:45, a transformer, underneath Main Street in Pawtucket, exploded.

The exploding transformer caused a fire that produced heavy smoke, forcing workers out of a nearby office building.

“It was a little scary, we'd been having an alarm going off all week so you think it isn't anything, just a false alarm, but then to come out and see the smoke, it was something that was definitely different.” said Raellen Issler, who works in the building near the site of the fire. 

Fire crews were able to put out the underground fire quickly and the situation, cleared out in about an hour.

The National Grid crews tending to the gas leak across town meanwhile, finished their work, just before dark.