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A Night To Remember: Back Then…The Unofficial History Of NJ 101.5

Matthew White, Townsquare Media

It has often been said that the night the Titanic sank in 1912 was, “a night to remember.” In Edison, the locals had their own night. Just before midnight on March 23, 1994, a 36 inch-in-diameter natural gas pipeline ruptured perilously close to the Durham Woods Apartments in Edison. What followed was a roaring, hellacious blast and continuous sheet of flame that melted cars and burned nearby apartments and trees to ashes. It was flaming chaos for those who lived at Durham Woods.

Jody Fisher was our ace reporter on the scene on that ‘night to remember’ back then . Jody tells me that he recalls an incredibly clear night. He says the flame from the ruptured pipe towered over everything like a giant blowtorch. He says it was a cold night, but when he got closer..too close as a matter of fact…to this huge sheet of felt like a summer afternoon.

Airline pilots flying into Newark were radioing in that it looked “as if someone nuked Central Jersey.”

Jody says Durham Woods residents did not panic. He says they just sort of wandered around in a daze, amidst the searing heat and incredibly bright light from this column of flame from the ruptured line.

New Jersey 101.5 was all over the story, right from the get go, back then. And our talk hosts helped generate interest in helping the 1500 residents of Durham Woods who needed clothing, and personal items after they were left homeless.

Miraculously, no one was killed as a direct result of the blast and fire. Tragically, a young woman by the name of Sandra Snyder died of a heart attack from the chaos. As of 2000, the operator of the pipeline, Texas Eastern, had paid out a total of 65-million dollars in claims to those who lived at the apartments back then, including almost 600-thousand to Sandra Snyder’s estate.

The blast and fire was the impetus for today’s “one call” system. It was later determined an excavator had likely weakened the pipeline during work that was done years before that.

Jody Fisher says when the valve that fed the gas supply to the ruptured pipe was finally shut off, the flame went out, “like a candle on a birthday cake.”

You can read more of Joe’s “Back Then…” stories anytime online.



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