The cause of a strong, natural gas odor in downtown Corry that was reported Friday afternoon is still unknown.
The smell was noticed by a pedestrian walking in the area of West South Street between Center and Spring streets.
Jim Lathrop, chief of Corry Fire Department, said the odor was reported to firefighters just before 1:30 p.m. Friday after the pedestrian, who was leaving The Corry Journal, 28 W. South St., smelled what he thought was natural gas. The man then walked to the fire department, 14 E. South St., to report the odor.
Members of the fire department were dispatched at about 1:26 p.m. to investigate the smell. Lathrop said firefighters could also smell the natural gas-like odor once on scene and began checking gas meters in the immediate area.
Lathrop said his first thought was that a gas meter might have been hit by falling ice or snow melting in the sunny weather Friday afternoon. As a result, members of the fire department checked all the gas meters on the block, but all of the meters appeared to be fine.
“We don’t know,” Lathrop said of the odor’s origin. “We smelled it and explored, but could not determine the cause.”
The fire department notified National Fuel Gas Co. of the situation and they dispatched a representative to the West South Street area to investigate. One representative initially responded but he eventually called in others.
“We turned it over to them,” Lathrop said. “They verified it and could smell an odor, but could not find a source.”
The National Fuel representative used a leak detector along West South Street and the surrounding area. He then used a special tool to cut small holes in the ground, a half inch in diameter, to get an underground reading. Lathrop said he did it once in the road and once at the base of telephone pole.
The odor was strongest in the middle of West South Street in front of 17 W. South St., but the smell would dissipate when walking east, west or north. However, the odor could also be smelled in a section of West Pleasant Street, which runs parallel to West South Street, directly south of 17 W. South St.
Lathrop said National Fuel representatives hunted for the cause of the odor, but did not find the source while the fire department was on the scene. Corry firefighters were then put back in service at 2:26 p.m.
No one from National Fuel came to the fire station or notified the department of the odor’s origin following the investigation, according to Lathrop.
Calls for comment to National Fuel were not returned as of press time.
The Corry Fire Department has received calls in the past about a petroleum-like odor near several businesses on Main Street, but the odor downtown on Friday was different.
“This one was natural gas,” Lathrop said.
Anyone who smells natural gas, whether it’s indoors or outdoors, should leave the premise and call someone from a different location.
“If you smell natural gas, notify someone; either us or National Fuel, especially this time of year,” Lathrop said. “The weather is changing and there’s a lot of things that can cause a leak.”
Someone who smells natural gas can call National Fuel’s emergency line at 1-800-444-3130.