February 20, 2014 at 1:52 AM
FAIRFIELD, NJ - The Fairfield Fire and Police Departments reported at 3:08 p.m. Wednesday afternoon to Target after several employees in the store smelled a strong odor of gas coming from the area of the front offices. The Atlantic Health EMS 7 was also at the scene to assist with any possible medical conditions.
According to Fire Captain Jay Artale, the fire department split into two crews; one investigated inside the store for the presence of a gas leak while a second crew climbed up onto the roof to determine if the smell was coming from the HVAC systems.
Artale, who was part of the roof crew, commented, "We searched the roof for the gas leak checking particularly in the area of the HVAC units. We found the units to be okay but still smelled gas around the roof."
It was Artale himself who noticed something unusual in the snow and finally discovered the source of the gas leak.
"I noticed an icy spot on the roof in the middle of untouched snow and it seemed odd;" artale explained, "so I went over to look at it and poked a hole in the ice. That's when I found the broken pipe.
What Artale had found under the ice and snow was a broken 3/4" gas line on the roof. "There was a thick layer of ice that had kept the gas trapped underneath the snow," Artale said. "It discolored the snow a bit in that area."
Apprarently, workers had been working on the roof at the time removing snow but were not in the area of the break. "We believe it broke from the weight of the snow and ice and then from the rain this morning."
According to Artale, the store was in the process of being evacuated when the source of the gas leak was quickly discovered. PSEG arrived at the scene and the gas was shut off "fairly quickly" according to the fire captain.