By MAUREEN DOHERTY
NORTH READING — Early last Wednesday morning, in the midst of a huge thunder and lightning storm that blanketed the entire town in cacophony of intense noise and bright light, a loud explosion was heard simultaneously on Main Street, not far from the Andover line.
The noise for those living in the vicinity was caused by an apparent explosion of a boiler in a common utility room of the Wayside Garden apartments at 279 Main St. during that storm.
Fortunately, no one was injured as a result of the explosion. Both the North Reading Fire and Police departments responded to the blast just before 2 a.m.
According to Fire Chief Don Stats, the boiler explosion is believed to have been caused by a “mechanical failure.” No fire occurred as a result of that failure. As of Monday afternoon, Stats told the Transcript that the exact cause “is still being investigation by the Fire Marshal’s office to determine if there was any other reason for the failure.”
For the time being, the residents of the affected units have not been allowed to return to their home. “A structural engineer has to check the integrity of the building to see if that would be allowed or if the building would actually have to be modified or torn down,” he said.
“This (building) had two units and a common utility area where the boiler was, in between them,” Stats explained.
It was initially reported that six people were displaced. Currently, two people have been displaced, the chief said. One is staying in another unit on site that was unoccupied and the other person is staying with his girlfriend, he said.
“The people in the other unit were allowed to stay because water was restored to them the very next day,” he added.
Stats said it’s very fortunate that nobody was hurt. “This could have been a lot worse,” he said.
The owner of the property also lives on-site.
After the explosion was reported on the TV news numerous people in town talked about how they had heard the explosion from several miles away. However, Chief Stats said he is certain that unless they live in the immediate vicinity this explosion did not awaken them from a sound sleep; it was the coincidence of the town-wide thunder and lightning storm occurring at the same time.