A brief but intense thunder storm Friday morning June 29, 2012 resulted in a lightning-caused natural gas leak in the front yard of 165 Susan Drive. Just after 6:30 a.m. Jackson Fire Stations 55 and 54 were dispatched to a gas leak at that address. On arrival Fire Fighters Pat Hilger and John Perrotto on Engine 5541 noticed that lightning had struck a large tree in front of 165 Susan Drive, and a strong odor of natural gas evident in the front yard. Assistant Chief Mike Waters arrived at nearly the same time and established Incident Command, advising responding fire fighters that an active gas leak coming from the ground was underway. Jackson Police Department officers were already on scene and had determined that no one was home at 165. FF Hilger shut off the gas supply to the house at the gas main. Crews arriving on Jackson Engine 5511, Jackson Mills Engines 5417 and 5411, and Jackson P.D. closed Susan Drive and began to evacuate the surrounding residents from their homes. Whitesville Engine 5701 was also on scene standing-by. Fire fighters entered the home at 165 and determined that a natural gas level of 70 ppm existed inside. They utilized natural ventilation to remove the gas vapors.
New Jersey Natural Gas representatives arrived on scene and mitigated the leak by shutting the street valve off, and replaced the broken section of residential service gas main that had been struck by lightning.
“This incident reinforces the need to be alert to your surroundings in the aftermath of a storm that produces lightning” stated Assistant Chief Waters. If lightning is in the area, seek cover. If a lightning strike occurs in the nearby area, use extreme caution until it is determined that the storm has passed, and that the area is now safe. If a problem is noted, call 9-1-1 immediately and do not touch any downed wires, or operate any spark-producing device if an odor of gas is evident.
Jackson Mills and Whitesville Fire crews were cleared at 7:40 a.m. The scene was cleared by all fire department personnel at 8:30 a.m. NJ Natural Gas crews remained on the scene until nearly 3:30 p.m. There were no injuries.