By Paula Roberts
Hometown Weekly Reporter
On the morning of November 4th, a two-story colonial at 126 Prince Street in Needham, was demolished by a gas line explosion as a result of utility work. The house was destroyed by a two-alarm fire. According to Thomas Conroy, Needham Fire Chief, the incident is being investigated by the Needham Fire Department, the Fire Marshall, and public utilities.
The morning of the accident, a backhoe operated by an Eversource contractor, doing planned natural gas work, damaged a gas line. This released gas into the house and caused the explosion. The basement filled with gas, connected with a source of initiation, and set off the fire. The explosion created heavy flames and a partial collapse in the rear of the house. One worker, Jake Wark, was injured and was hospitalized for injuries, but has since been released from the hospital.
It was incredibly lucky that there were no people in the house at the time of the explosion. The owners had rented it the past two years and the tenant, Hari Harkumar was fortunately in Connecticut at the time of the explosion. He said, “The damage is complete.” Unfortunately, Harkumar reported that he lost everything and was wondering where he was going to live.
Chris McKinnon, who is a spokesperson for the utility company, told MassLive that the worker contracted by Eversource was performing natural gas work at the home, working to replace and move the gas meter. A joint investigation confirmed the explosion was accidental. McKinnon confirmed that the workers were immediately “in close coordination with emergency responders.”
When emergency crews arrived at Prince Street, heavy fire was erupting from a portion of the home. The house had partially collapsed, and debris was scattered amidst heavy smoke and fire. The fire was fed by an active gas line in the basement. All workers on the scene worked to contain the fire until the gas could be shut off. Eversource workers combined forces with emergency responders and intend to investigate the exact cause of the explosion, according to the utility company.
Fortunately, no other houses on Prince Street were damaged, though 126 Prince St. was completely destroyed and had to be demolished. The State Fire Marshall’s Office, the State Department of Public Utilities, the Needham Fire Department, the State Department of Fire Safety, and Eversource are all working on the explosion at 126 Prince Street. There will be investigations about “whether there were violations of safety codes at Prince Street.”