Fire Department crews were called in to investigate a gas leak at the Belfast Birches apartment building Monday, Aug. 27.

About 1 p.m. a whistle blew, alerting approximately 16 residents to evacuate the building at 32 School St.

Belfast Fire Department Chief James Richards said the alarm was set off by a malfunctioning regulator on a tank located in the back of the building, which was venting gas.

"It was hissing, coming up through the vent," Richards said.

Dead River Co. was alerted and dispatched a technician to replace the faulty regulator, Richards said.

Mary Stover, a building resident, said she recalled a different company working on the furnace earlier in the day, around 10 a.m.

"We smelled it bad when we came out this morning," Stover's roommate, Madeline McAvey, said.

Several residents left in such a hurry that they did not have a chance to collect pets. One resident was very upset about leaving her cat behind. She said she left her apartment door open but suspected the animal wouldn't come out because of all the loud noises.

About 1:30 p.m., Richards told residents it was OK to go back inside the building but he recommended opening windows to air out the propane smell.