Construction site collapse spurs gas leak


PITTSFIELD -- Warm weather and rain contributed to the melting and collapse of dirt fill at the construction site of a home addition in Pittsfield on Saturday morning, causing a gas leak.

D.C. Sumner and Construction had been working on building the addition to the home and had just finished installing a concrete retaining wall on Friday, city of Pittsfield Building Inspector Al Leu said. Overnight rains and warm weather by Saturday aided in the dirt falling away from the house, exposing a gas line.

"The rain caused the soil to become unstable. We're trying to get it to a condition where the house is safe and no further damage can be done," Leu said.

Pittsfield Fire Department Deputy Chief Mike Polidoro said the gas leak could have been worse if not for a safety valve which kicked in to limit the damage caused by the leak.

"Fortunately the safety check valves operated properly and the release of gas was minimal," Polidoro said.

The fire department was called to the scene at about 11 a.m. Workers from Berkshire Gas Co. shut off the gas and a contractor from D.C. Sumner and Construction arrived to fill back in the site.

The fill had been placed in after contractors excavated the site to put in the retaining wall.

There was additional concern about the front porch needing support as well, Lew said.

"The ground was frozen (last night)," homeowner Brian MacDonald said, while explaining the situation in front of his home on Saturday. "The spring came and the ground isn't frozen anymore."

Essentially, a small mudslide occurred, ripping the gas meter off the home, MacDonald said. "It could have been worse."

It wasn't clear if MacDonald and his family would immediately be able to stay in the home. Leu said that heat needed to be restored, and the water couldn't be used since one of the pipes had broken off outside the home.

Leu said more soil would need to be added to stabilize the home and ensure the foundation is safe and prevent any further collapses.

"It's going to take some time to restore this to a safe condition," Leu said.

To reach Nathan Mayberg:
or (413) 496-6243


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