Utility CEO: No sign of urgency before New York gas leak

Thursday, March 13, 2014 | 2:55 p.m. CDT; updated 4:32 p.m. CDT, Thursday, March 13, 2014

NEW YORK — The CEO of Consolidated Edison says the East Harlem explosion might have been prevented if more people had called earlier about suspected gas.

John McAvoy said Thursday that calls perceived as urgent would have been sent directly to the fire department while utility workers responded.

But he says that in this case, "it was categorized as a low priority."

The blast erupted around 15 minutes after a neighboring resident reported gas Wednesday. Con Edison said it immediately sent workers but it was too late.

The caller said he also had smelled the gas the night before.

McAvoy said the utility received two reports in three years of gas leaks at the two buildings leveled in the explosion. They were in 2013 and 2011.

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