The four-inch gas line ruptured at 11:11 a.m. during some routine maintenance work by ConEdison on an inoperative shutoff valve near the intersection of 168th Street and 48th Avenue.Fire officials reported the gas leak shut down at 11:39 a.m. One ConEd worker received minor injuries when a piece of debris was lodged in his eye. He was taken to the New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens and released, according to officials.The students were evacuated to nearby Martins Field.Shortly after the leak, parents of students began flowing into the school, worried about the safety of their children. Most took their children out early.Angela Sternreich, mother of second-grader Cameron, 7, said she was sleeping when she got a phone call about the gas leak. She said she was pleasantly surprised when she came to the school to find things were already under control. "I was terrified but also pleased to see that there's no panic," she said as the students were ushered back into the school, smiling and waving at the television cameras on hand to cover the breaking story. "I did the same thing after 9-11. I came here and stood around like a lemming."Fourth-grader Victoria Crowe, 9, said she was happy to get out of school a little early, although the timing could have been a little better. Earlier in the day the fourth-graders took a state math test. Shortly afterwards, they were evacuated."When we heard about it, I thought, 'Wow, at least we get to get out of school,'" she said.Firefighters responded to the two-alarm call with 25 units and 106 personnel. Upon arrival, they unloaded their hoses and stood at the ready, pointing them toward the gas leak in case it caught fire, according to Fire Chief Mike Keenan.Some residents claimed ConEd workers are constantly in the area tearing up the streets to work on gas lines. "ConEd has been in front of these homes, doing construction for over a year," said resident Donna Laske. "I've probably smelled gas 10 times at this location."A spokesman for ConEd said the utility company has only been in the area during scheduled maintenance operations."All I know is we replaced the gas main in front of the school last year," said ConEd spokesman Art Cronson. "That's the only work we've done. Right now we're investigating the cause of this, but we're not aware of any other problems in that area."Reach reporter Scott Sieber by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.
©2005 Community News Group
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