Gas Leaks Force Evacuations in 2 City Neighborhoods

A large gas leak forced more than 40 people to evacuate in South Philadelphia and a second leak emptied a block in Chinatown Saturday.

The Philadelphia Fire Department rushed to the 2200 block of South 8th Street around 5:15 p.m. after a resident reported a suspicious odor, according to officials.

"I was really scared and all because the house could blow up," said 71-year-old Loretta Kelsey.

PGW crews are still working to determine the source of the leak in Chinatown.Officials say they evacuated the block - 28 houses and 48 residents in total - as a precaution.

"A gas explosion just happened a couple of blocks away," said Anthony Seaborn of South Philly. "So you have to be worried about your safety."

By 8 p.m. residents in odd-numbered homes were allowed to return. Residents of even-numbered properties were able to go back inside around 9:45 p.m.

Those affected could wait in a staging area on the 700 block of Jackson Street.

A SEPTA bus was also available so residents could sit and stay warm. The street closure caused the public transit agency to reroute bus 48 through Saturday evening.

It was not an explosive situation and the leak's origin was located outside of the house numbered 2012, according to Philadelphia Gas Works officials.

Fire crews also responded  to the area of 9th and Race streets in Chinatown about a possible gas leak around 5:50 p.m., according to reports.

Authorities evacuated the 900 block of Race Street, but everyone was able to return to their homes by 9:45 p.m.

Crews determined the leak came from a six-inch main in the middle of the street. Officials say the area is safe and repairs are underway. There was no service disruption.

A PGW spokeswoman says they are unsure what caused the leaks, but that large fluctuations in temperature could have been a factor.

Any customer who smells gas is asked to call PGW immediately at 215-235-1212.

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