A third-party contractor in the area of Bridge and North streets accidentally struck a 2-inch natural gas line, according to Bill Madore, fire chief. The contractor notified 911, prompting an emergency response to Bridge and North streets, near the riverfront, at 2:15 p.m.

Madore said safety of the people in the area was the first concern. While waiting for Liberty Gas Co., personnel to arrive on the scene and shut off the gas flow, firefighters were going from door to door, evacuating people from buildings along North Street west to Third Street, and along Main Street to Hill.

“The physical property of natural gas is that it rises and dissipates,” Madore said. “It poses a danger to people in the immediate area.”

The gas leak was stopped by 3 p.m.