MANCHESTER, NH – A crash on Varney Street late Monday in which the driver fled the scene resulted in a gas leak, and left one firefighter with minor injuries after reentering a home to search for pets.
The incident began in Goffstown when a vehicle with two people in it was stopped by Goffstown Police at about 10:10 p.m. after an officer noted suspicious activity. The passenger was reportedly pointing a gun at passing vehicles. During the stop the driver fled from police after the passenger was detained, driving on Mast Road into Manchester where the vehicle left the roadway and continued onto Varney Street, hitting the wall at Girls Inc., and then a road sign before going airborne, launching the vehicle between two trees. The vehicle hit parked cars and landed upside-down into a three-family residence at 316 Varney St., rupturing the gas line.
Manchester Fire Department arrived to find that the high pressure gas line was free-flowing into the home, and escaping into the night air. Fire crews searched the overturned vehicle, but no driver was found. Additional crews arrived and evacuated the residence, which was filling with natural gas. After all occupants were evacuated, firefighters re-entered the gas-filled home to remove a dog and a cat, which were handed off to their owner. A firefighter suffered minor injuries upon reentering the home to search for the dog. The injured firefighter’s name was not immediately available.
Fire officials reported that all possible sources of ignition were eliminated as fire crews trained hose lines to direct gas vapors away from the crews that were working at the scene. The home sustained some structural damage but the eight occupants who were evacuated were able to return, after crews mitigated the incident.
Keyspan arrived on the scene and the free-flowing gas was shut off after approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Liberty Utilities arrived to shut off the gas, but initially struggled to locate the shut-off, due to recently paved streets, according to Fire Chief Michael Gamache.
With the amount of natural gas leaking from the residence, it’s fortunate that no one was seriously injured, according to Gamache, who said the high-pressure natural gas leak threatened the safety of all firefighters, occupants and neighbors who in proximity of the leak.
It appears the driver of the vehicle was also injured. A neighbor noticed a trail of blood in his backyard and a broken fence, and notified Manchester Police Department, who began a track with their K9 unit.
No information was immediately available about the identity or status of the driver or passenger of the vehicle. We’ll update this story with more details from Goffstown and Manchester police departments as soon as it’s become available.