PHOTOS: Avalon Shelton evacuated due to suspected gas leak

Emergency crews responded to a reported grease fire and gas leak at the Avalon Shelton apartment complex at just before 10 p.m. on Tuesday. (Photos by Brad Durrell)

Fire, police and ambulance personnel were at the scene in downtown Shelton for almost two hours, as firefighters and Eversource (Yankee Gas) employees searched for the cause of the gas leak or leaks.

The 250-unit apartment complex on Canal Street was evacuated, with residents at first standing outside in the cold as they waited for the all-clear to be able to go back inside.

The residents then were welcomed inside the lobby of the neighboring Birmingham condo complex to keep warm. They were able to return to their apartments at slightly past 11:30 p.m.

“We were just allowed back inside. Oh boy,” tweeted an Avalon resident at about 11:40 p.m.

Multiple emergency vehicles responded to the incident, with Canal Street temporarily closed off to regular traffic at the Bridge Street side ramp.

Keeping warm

Jeff Norko and Liz Lopez had walked back to their Avalon unit after eating out at a Center Street restaurant to find most of their fellow residents standing outside the complex.

“We walked up to a huge crowd of people,” said Norko, speaking while inside the Birmingham lobby at just before 11 p.m. “They told us there was a grease fire and a gas leak.”

At that point, the grease fire was no longer a factor in the ongoing emergency response. It was unclear whether the gas leak and reported grease fire were related.

Like many Avalon residents, as the night went on, Norko and Lopez were just hoping to get back inside their home. “I work very early in the morning,” he said. “I’d like to get back in to get warm and go to sleep.”

Possibly 'multiple gas leaks'

According to a posting by Echo Hose Fire during the incident, emergency crews had to contend with “multiple gas leaks” and “EMS [is] evaluating patients.”

Firefighters and Eversource employees used gas reading devices to try to find out where any natural gas leak was originating from.

Personnel from the Echo Hose, Pine Rock Park and White Hills volunteer fire companies responded, bringing multiple vehicles and related equipment.

Echo Hose Ambulance personnel oversaw medical issues, and Shelton police officers were present to handle crowd control and other matters.

Avalon Shelton is a 250-unit rental residential complex that borders the Housatonic River. It opened in 2013.