NEW YORK (AP) — The explosion that leveled two apartment buildings in New York on Wednesday, apparently because of a gas leak, prompted authorities to renew their appeals to the public to report possible gas leaks immediately.
"The issue is, do people know what to do when they smell gas," said Bob McGee of Con Ed, the utility serving the affected neighborhood in East Harlem. "It's not something you ignore."
Con Ed says anyone smelling an odor suspected to be natural gas should first leave the premises, taking others with them. In the process of evacuating, they should take precautions not to trigger a blast.
"Do not do anything to create a spark that could cause an explosion, such as lighting a match, starting a car, turning appliances, lights, or flashlights on or off, using a telephone or cell phone, and ringing doorbells," Con Ed warns.
Once the evacuees are a safe distance away, a report should be made to Con Ed via a special phone number provided on its website — 800-752-6633.
New York City's website advises that gas odors or possible gas leaks should be reported by calling 911.
Con Ed describes natural gas as a safe and reliable fuel, but notes that leaks can cause fires and explosions.
"That's why a strong rotten egg odor is added so you can detect even small gas leaks," the utility says. "Other signs of a leak include a white cloud, mist, fog, or bubbles in standing water and a roaring, hissing, or whistling sound."