New Jersey

Gas Leak Forces Evacuation of 40 Homes in New Jersey

Dozens of homes were evacuated as authorities tried to close a gas leak in a New Jersey neighborhood. 

About 200 people in 40 families living in a 300-yard area of Schraalenburgh and Closter roads in Harrington Park were cleared out Thursday evening after the reported leak, according to authorities.

"If there was a problem there could have been a lot of people hurt or maybe even killed," Mayor Paul Hoelscher said at the scene. "Just as a precaution it’s always best to move people out."

By 9:30 p.m., many of those homeowners were able to go back inside but three were still not cleared to go back inside. By 4 a.m. all residents had returned home. 

Police say workers for the state utility PSE&G were doing repairs when they hit a main gas line and said they had hoped to have it stopped by 10 p.m. Witnesses at the scene said they could smell gas from outside the perimeter set up by authorities. 

"First I smelt it, my throat got funny and I started getting nauseous," Linda Viar of Harrington Park said. "I went outside and I saw these gentlemen going house to house going to tell people to evacuate." 

Evacuees were housed at Harrington Park Elementary School for several hours. There were no reported injuries. 

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