Great Barrington Fire Department main station

The Great Barrington Fire Department responded to nearly 20 emergency 911 phone calls late Friday night and into the early hours of Saturday regarding the smell of natural gas, according to Fire Chief Charles Burger.

GREAT BARRINGTON — Residents got bit of a scare over the weekend, after getting an unusual whiff of typically undetectable, minor natural gas leaks in the Berkshire Gas Co. pipeline system.

The Great Barrington Fire Department responded to nearly 20 emergency 911 phone calls from customers late Friday night and into the early hours of Saturday, according to Fire Chief Charles Burger.

Burger says the Pittsfield-based utility responded quickly with crews from as far away as Greenfield that worked through the night to ensure that homeowners were not in any danger.

"A couple of the leaks were more serious, and [Berkshire Gas] had them repaired; the rest were extremely, extremely minor and posed no danger," Burger said Sunday.

Berkshire Gas could not be reached for further comment.

Burger said the problem began when the company's injection system added too much mercaptan to the naturally odorless gas to help detect gas leaks. These minor leaks, which never before were detected, Burger said, now were very noticeable.

Burger added that the right amount of mercaptan now is being added to the gas, and there have been no further reports of leaks.

The fire chief said that for anyone smelling gas in their home or business, it's important to evacuate and call 911 from outside the building.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com.