Sammy Westfall

As DJ Action served up his weekly Wednesday-night tunes inside Toad’s Place, the odor of natural gas wafted in the air on the street outside, prompting a shut-down of a section of York Street as well as the arrival of the Yale Fire Marshal, the New Haven Fire and Police Departments and several vans from the city’s natural-gas providers.

The Fire Department received a call at 10:51 p.m. on Wednesday regarding the odor of natural gas coming from the street in front of Blue State Coffee on York. The Fire Department’s first unit arrived on the scene just a minute later.

“Right now, we’re just going to hold the scene,” Deputy Fire Chief Bruce Galaski said on the scene Wednesday night. “Yorkside Pizza is open and Toad’s Place is open with a lot of people. We’re metering those two businesses [in addition to Trumbull College].”

Blue State, however, was evacuated, according to a NHPD officer who was watching traffic and making sure students did not pass through the restricted area.

Upon their arrival, members of the fire department smelled the odors but were unable to detect anything on their meters, so they called New Haven’s gas provider, Southern Connecticut Natural Gas. Before the company’s arrival, Galaski told the News that it was likely that the odor came from a damaged gas pipe running underneath the street itself.

The Fire Department shut down a 70-yard section of the road. With the help of the New Haven Police Department, it restricted both pedestrian and vehicle access to York Street beginning at the Patagonia storefront at the intersection on Broadway and ending at Yorkside Pizza. Galaski stressed that if the gas showed signs of migrating, the provider could shut the entire pipe down but, given that the gas was contained, the provider preferred to maintain the pipe and minimize service disruptions to the area.

Since gas can travel under the ground through basements, the fire department also gained access to the basements in all the storefronts on York Street and Trumbull College, which flank the street from which the odor emanated. There were zero readings in all the basements of storefronts and Trumbull. But the Fire Department continued to periodically monitor those readings to ensure the safety of occupants.

At 1 a.m., following the last beats of Bon Jovi’s Livin’ On A Prayer, hundreds of Yalies piled out of Toads and began to fill the street. Five members of the fire department and two members of the Woads staff stood outside the Toads doors to redirect the students away from the restricted area; the two Woads staff members pointed away from Woads, shouting several times “There’s a gas leak. Go now.”

Angela Xiao |

Sammy Westfall |