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Thruway reopened after gas leak

The Thruway between exits 23 and 24 was closed for several hours and nearby residents and patrons of businesses fled the area on foot after a natural gas line was ruptured this morning in Guilderland.

The 12-inch gas main was broke around 11 a.m. by workers with Rifenburg Construction of Troy who were making repairs to a sewer line that had been damaged earlier. When the line was ruptured is caused a loud noise alerted anyone nearby of the problem, said Sean Maguire of the Westmere Fire Department.

Authorities quickly shut down the Thruway. Some southbound cars were stuck for a time before workers cut a portion of the median's guardrail so traffic could turn around.

In the meantime, Guilderland police and firefighters from the Westmere Fire District shut down a portion of Schoolhouse Road just off of Route 20, and at least several dozen people from surrounding homes, apartments and a nearby medical practice were evacuated.

Several used surgical masks as the smell of gas wafted through the area. Maguire said the department did not issue any masks, as there was little if any hazard in that respect.

The smell that comes with natural gas is actually something that's added in that lets you smell it if there was a leak, he said. "The immediate threat had to do with the volatility of natural gas."

One Rifenburg employee suffered a cut to his arm and was treated on the scene, but there were no other injuries reported. National Grid shut off and repaired the gas line, and the Thruway was opened again at about 12:50 p.m.

Photos by Charles Wiff/Spotlight ""

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