New Castle News


November 9, 2013

Photos, Story: North Hill gas line rupture forces evacuations

NEW CASTLE — Contractors knocked on Billie Jean and Tom Cioffi’s door yesterday and said they were installing a gas meter.

“And then, boom,” Billie Jean Cioffi said, describing how the workers had broken a four-inch natural gas main in front of their house at 1907 Delaware Ave.

The break occurred around 9:20 a.m. when workers were digging under the sidewalk.

A Columbia Gas worker said a third-party contractor was installing a service line to a house.

A four-block area was closed to traffic and Sarah Perry, Columbia Gas communications specialist, said about a dozen homes in the 1900 block of Delaware Avenue were evacuated.

Some residents grabbed their children and dogs and ran out of their homes. Others left their pets behind.

The roaring sound of gas could be heard from more than a block away. Firetrucks, police cars and ambulances blocked off the area at intersections.

Sherri Libengood of 1911 Delaware Ave. held her barefoot, year-old son who was wearing nothing but a shirt and a diaper. Her 2-year-old daughter was in pajamas and barefoot. When firefighters knocked on Libengood’s door, she grabbed the children and quickly left, she said, leaving two dogs inside the house.

The Cioffis had hired a woman to do work at their house. She was being paid “and now she was thrown out too,” said Billie Jean Cioffi, who had joined a group of neighbors about a half-block away from the dig site.

Among them was Jeff Burns, who lives at 1911 Delaware Ave.

“We were in the house and we heard a big noise and it was spraying,” he said. “You could smell the gas. Now they’re warning people on the block.”

New Castle policeman Chris Fabian was standing watch from an intersection near the affected area.

“I know they evacuated both sides of Delaware between Hillcrest and Fairmont,” he said around 11 a.m. yesterday. “Now they are out with meters checking houses to determine the gas levels. They still didn’t shut it off yet. I’m two blocks away and I still hear it whistling. It’s a high-flow line for it to be whistling that fast.”

Perry confirmed that a contractor had hit a Columbia Gas Co. line on Delaware Avenue.

“At this time they are focused on keeping the situation safe,” she said.

Dean Masajada of 1905 Delaware Ave. said the gas company has had a contractor working in that neighborhood for the past couple of months.

“They were in front of our house with a Bobcat and they dug up the sidewalk,” he said. “All of a sudden we heard what sounded like a jet engine and my daughter saw one of the gas company guys running from house to house. I could barely hear the guy.”

Masajada and the four other members of his household left with their two dogs and waited in their car down the street. They left their two cats behind in the house.

“We’re still in our cars,” he said around 11:15 a.m.

The gas flow was shut off by noon, Fabian said, and people were allowed back in their homes.

Tentative repairs were made by 2 p.m., the worker said, and permanent repairs were expected to be done by 3 p.m. However, gas service was not expected to be turned on until last night.

(Email: dwachter

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • VerySpecial.jpg Jameson Hoyt Atrium display spotlights artwork of special needs kids and adults

    Artwork from dozens of area students will take center stage Thursday in the Hoyt Atrium of Jameson Hospital. The Very Special Arts exhibit will kick off with an opening reception at 5 p.m., and the works will remain on display in the glass-enclosed walkway through Oct. 4.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • DougDanko.jpg Census shows county population getting older

    Lawrence County’s population continues to get older. However, it is not alone, as Pennsylvania overall is aging.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • backpackproject.jpg Councilman picks up tab to help lunch program

    Participants of a local summer feeding program are eating this week courtesy of New Castle City Councilman Tim Fulkerson. On Friday morning, the truck dispatched from New Castle to pick up about 3,500 pounds of items from the Pittsburgh Food Bank broke down as it arrived at its destination.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • CRESTVIEW.jpg Outreach: Churches plan to host picnic for residents of Crestview Gardens

    Volunteers from several area churches are banding together in hopes of bringing peace to a troubled neighborhood.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • money.jpg Council OKs funds to remove dead trees

    New Castle City Council has approved spending funds from its contingency account to remove some trees at Darlington Park. Marshall Tree Experts of Ellwood City has given an estimate of $12,000 to remove the large elm trees from the Mahoningtown park.


    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • 12.jpg Photo Gallery, Story: Night light

    The balloons may have been on the ground but spirits were soaring.


    July 25, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • StateFair.jpg 'State Fair' coming to Playhouse

    The fair is coming to town. No, not the Lawrence County Fair, although that is right around the corner. This is the Iowa State Fair, and it will be live on the stage of the New Castle Playhouse for three weeks, starting Friday night.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • accountant.jpg DeLorenzo’s status with authority unchanged

    Deno DeLorenzo’s status as a contract employee with the New Castle Sanitation Authority remains unchanged. Authority board members met with DeLorenzo last week regarding an investigation by the Lawrence County district attorney’s office involving Shenango Township funds.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shooting.jpg Detroit area man dies in Ellwood City gunfire

    A triple shooting in an Ellwood City street has claimed the life of a Detroit area man. Gunfire erupted in the middle of Loop Street outside the Walnut Ridge housing project around 10:20 p.m. Sunday, according to state police.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Baptism1.jpg Dipped downtown

    John the Baptist identified himself as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’ ” On Saturday, local evangelist Randy Crum once again took a cue from the son of Elizabeth and Zechariah, eschewing the locusts and honey that John was known to munch on but heading out into the wilds to baptize believers and challenge them to share their faith with their community.

    July 21, 2014 3 Photos

House Ads

Would you want to know what your pet is thinking about you?

Yes! I'd love to know what my pet is thinking.
Nah, it's probably not that interesting.
I don't know. I'm afraid of what I might find out.
     View Results