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Threat Of Water Tower Collapse Forces Evacuations In Rochester, NH

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The water tank on Route 108 in Rochester, N.H.

The water tank on Route 108 in Rochester, N.H.

ROCHESTER, N.H. (CBS) – A quarter-mile area in Rochester, New Hampshire was evacuated Tuesday because a huge water tower was in danger of bursting open, which would have sent two million gallons of water rushing into the surrounding neighborhood.

Someone noticed the tank on Route 108 was leaking Tuesday morning. Police and fire crews responded and immediately ordered evacuations.

“I didn’t even get to change [my clothes],” one resident said.

WBZ-TV’s Christina Hager reports

Emergency crews began the process of draining the tank, which took much longer than originally anticipated.

“As that water level drops, there’s head pressure in the tank and that head pressure goes down along with the water which means it doesn’t come out as quickly,” explained Assistant Fire Chief Mark Dupuis of the Rochester fire department. “So as we lose water, it drains actually slower.”

Hours later, well after dark, the water was drained to a safe level and most families were allowed back into their homes.

“There’s nothing better than sleeping in your own home,” one family said upon their return.

The neighborhood will be getting water from a backup source until the leaky tank can be repaired.

Crews said the leak was caused by a shift in the soil under the enormous tank. Because of that underground movement, the home next door will need to be examined before it is deemed safe.

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