Last updated: February 19. 2013 8:25PM - 774 Views

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KINGSTON – Utility crews working to repair a water pipe ruptured an underground natural gas line Monday morning at Schuyler Avenue and John Street, forcing evacuation of an elementary school and nearly two dozen houses and businesses in a four block area.

Pressure from the ruptured gas line caused mud and dirt to spew 20 feet in the air and produced a strong odor detected four blocks away.

Emergency responders quickly evacuated Schuyler Avenue Elementary School, taking students to the nearby Thomas' Family Market on Wyoming Avenue. The school is about 100 feet from where the gas line break occurred.

Students were then bused to the Chester Street Middle School where parents were able to pick up their children.

Tom McTague, Kingston emergency management coordinator, said there were no injuries. The evacuation of the school went smoothly, he said.

McTague said crews from Pennsylvania American Water digging to repair a water leak struck the underground gas line. McTague said he did not know if the gas line was properly marked.

Betty Imor, 43, of John Street, said she opened her apartment door to take trash out when she heard a loud explosion.

It sounded like a jet engine and then the smell, Imor said. The fire department was here in seconds and started telling everyone they needed to leave.

Imor said she was able to grab her coat but did not have time to change her slippers.

The evacuation forced the temporary closure of several businesses, including the Bonner Chevrolet dealership and the Kingston Senior Center on Wyoming Avenue.

After the ruptured line was capped, UGI crews went door to door checking for natural gas that may have been trapped inside buildings before residents were permitted to return to their houses and apartments.

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