A natural gas line was ruptured early Saturday by a barge trying to dock in a waterway known as the Arthur Kill, raising fears of an explosion off Staten Island before winds dispersed the gas, authorities said.

The barge, owned by the Bouchard company, was being pushed by a tugboat into a Staten Island terminal when its rudder hooked the pipe in about 25 feet of water, said Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer Howard Holmes.The broken 16-inch main sent an unknown amount of gas into the air about 50 feet off the shoreline, creating the possibility of an explosion, said Holmes. The city fire department was called in case of a fire caused by the leak, he said.

But the line was turned off, and stiff winds dispersed the gas without incident, authorities said. The rupture did force a shutdown of a section of the Arthur Kill for 71/2 hours, Holmes said.