GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Latest Cape Ann News

January 25, 2009

Resident 'critical' in Eastern Ave. explosion; nearby gas leak found

'I've never seen anything like that': Neighbors spring into action after blast

VIDEO: Charlie Foster talks about what happened moments after the explosion 

VIDEO: Neighbors have been complaining since Dec. 26, 2008 of gas fumes in the area

Click here to watch raw footage of the aftermath

Click here to view a photo slideshow of rescue workers during the aftermath

 A powerful explosion near the site of where a gas leak was later discovered rocked an East Gloucester neighborhood yesterday morning, blowing up an Eastern Avenue home, badly damaging houses on both sides and seriously injuring the leveled house's occupant, a longtime city police officer.

Patrolman Wayne Sargent, 57, who resided at 76 Eastern Ave. with his dog and maintained the property to Garden Club award-winning standards, was assisted out of the wreckage by a neighbor and relative. Sargent was taken by helicopter to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

A Mass. General spokesperson and city Police Lt. Joseph Aiello said last night that Sargent was in critical condition. The nature of his injuries were not revealed, but Mayor Carolyn Kirk announced at a 5 p.m. news conference that "we expect a full recovery."

National Grid, which according to police and residents had been working in the neighborhood for more than a month searching for the source of a persistent gas smell, found a gas leak under the street opposite the still-smouldering remains of Sargent's celebrated property, and eliminated it by late afternoon, according to John Higgins, the utility's operation commander on the scene.

The cause of the explosion was uncertain, with the state fire marshal's office scheduled to arrive this morning to begin an investigation. Two other leaks, however, were also found, Higgins announced at a meeting of emergency offices and responders in the mayor's office. But he said they were venting to the air, and the leaks could not be considered dangerous.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest Cape Ann News

Pictures of the Week
Your news, your way
Comments Tracker
AP Video Network
Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament