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Heating oil mistakenly pumped into basement of Chelsea home

A Chelsea home suffered “pretty significant” damage Tuesday when an oil company mistakenly delivered a few dozen gallons of heating oil to the wrong home, authorities said.

“The oil company went to the wrong address and there was an oil fill pipe on the side of the house, so the driver started pumping into the basement,” Chelsea Fire Chief Robert Better said. “Neighbors went outside and told the driver that house didn’t have fuel anymore and he realized he was at the wrong house.”

Before realizing his error, the driver pumped between 30 and 50 gallons of oil into the basement of the two-family house on Central Avenue, according to Better. He said the residents, neighbors, and driver were not in immediate danger.


“Oil is a combustible, though it takes a great deal to ignite it. Having said that, it could have resulted in a ... serious fire,” Better said. “Whenever any fuel is out of its container it’s a hazard.”

Chelsea firefighters responded to the home and used an absorbent to soak up as much of the oil as possible. Better called the damages “an open ended bill,” and said that because the fluid oil seeped through the floor, it will have to be replaced, along with much of the soil underneath.

“The house was opened up and vented, the electric service was locked out, so that couldn’t be a source of ignition,” he said. “The whole house has to be cleaned up. It’s not as easy as one would think to put a house back in repair after something like this.”

Better said the house once had an oil tank, but that when the owners removed the tank, they did not remove or plug the exterior fill pipe.

“The lesson learned here is that if something can go wrong, it will go wrong and that’s what happened,” he said. “When they removed the tank they should have removed that fill pipe and this never would have happened.”


Colin A. Young can be reached at colin.young@globe.com.