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Columbia Gas Says It Welcomes Investigation

A company representative will attend the next Board of Selectmen meeting to speak about the gas leak during this week's fire in Seekonk.

A spokeswoman from Columbia Gas says the company is cooperating with state investigators on a probe of  that occurred during  that was not supposed to have any functioning utilities.

"We've been talking with the Department of Public Utilities," Columbia spokeswoman Sheila Doiron told Attleboro-Seekonk Patch on Thursday. "We're already in full contact with them."

She said Columbia's policy is not to speak to the media about a specific incident once an investigation has begun.

The Seekonk Board of Selectmen  at the Wednesday night meeting. Selectman Gary Sagar, a retired fire captain, said it was a miracle the gas leak did not kill anybody. 

An excavator ruptured the main Tuesday afternoon as firefighters attempted to extinguish the blaze at a 105,000-square-foot abandoned mill on Maple Avenue. Fire Chief Alan Jack said, "There was a very loud burst of gas once the pipe was ruptured and there was a plume of brown product that probably went 50 to 70 feet in the air."

Fire Capt. Michael Healey blasted Columbia at the selectmen meeting for taking nearly an hour to respond to a call following the rupture, and for taking nearly three hours to turn off the gas. He said the company acted "slow, unprofessional and pretty much lackadaisical."

Selectmen Chair Francis Cavaco said a Columbia representative should attend next week's meeting. Doiron said the company is making arrangements with town officials to make this happen.

"We want to be able to provide as much information as possible and to be able to answer questions," Doiron said.

Local, state and federal investigators are trying to determine the cause of the fire. Chief Jack told the media on Wednesday that the fire was manmade and that the gas leak was not a cause.

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