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Gas leak shortens Bayside lunch hour

More than 550 Con Ed customers lost gas service in Bayside recently when a four-inch valve in an underground main failed, sending the telltale smell of the explosive chemical thousands of feet on strong winds.
The leak, which occurred about 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 20, at the intersection of 26th Avenue and Corporal Kennedy Street in Bay Terrace, forced emergency workers to shut off gas to an area from the Clearview Expressway to the Bay Terrace Shopping Center.
Some occupants of the Clearview Self Help Center, a gathering place for local seniors, were forced to flee the area due to the overwhelming smell of gas, carried on the shifting winds which gusted to over 35 miles per hour.
Con Ed workers fanned out over the affected area, from 26th Avenue to 36th Avenue, visiting over 400 separate addresses, to verify that the gas was indeed shut off.
“It was late lunchtime when they came in and told us the gas was going off,” said Jimmy Papageorge of the Terrace Diner. “All we have right now is salads and sandwiches - We were having a good day up until then, but if we can’t cook dinner, I don’t know what’s going to be - at least nobody was seriously hurt,” he said.
All the other food service establishments in the shopping center were similarly affected, sending hungry patrons to other parts of the neighborhood.
“I was wondering what happened,” said Vanessa, the barperson at Pizzeria Uno on 38th Avenue and Bell Boulevard. “We were busier than usual for a Thursday,” she observed.
One Con Ed emergency repair worker received “non-life-threatening abrasions” while uncovering the failed valve. The worker was apparently injured while excavating at the location of the buried valve, by dirt and debris violently expelled by the escaping gas.
According to Chris Olert, a Con Ed spokesperson, the unidentified worker was transported by ambulance to North Shore Medical Center in Manhasset. “There was no explosion and no serious injuries,” he said.

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