Residents of a four-unit apartment building on Proctor Street in Waterbury  were evacuated safely before an explosion and fire late Monday morning.  Firefighters say a private contractor replacing gas equipment outside the building began to cut the gas service pipe,  thinking service had been shut off.

The service had not been shut off,  and during the cutting operation, the contractor gas was leaking.  The contractor stopped cutting and tried to stem the flow of natural gas,  and sent employees inside to warn residents to evacuate.  Realizing conditions were not safe,  employees and residents moved away from the area before the leaking natural gas reached an ignition source and the building caught fire.

Firefighters say the call came in as an explosion.  When they arrived they were unable to enter the building because of heavy fire.  It took about an hour and a half to contain the blaze.

A total of six people lived in the building,  which is considered a total loss.  The Red Cross is helping the displaced residents


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