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A small gas leak in the 700 block of Sixth Street in Carrollton on Tuesday, March 5, turned into a big headache for Carrollton Utilities workers.
General Manager Bill Osborne said in a news release that Dennis Wheeler, a CU serviceman, was making a routine service call to 714 Sixth St. between 10-10:30 a.m. when he detected the odor of natural gas in the area. Once he confirmed the leak, he called into CU for assistance.
CU safety director Tony Pearson soon arrived on scene. Using a remote methane leak detector, which can scan up to 125 feet away and can scan for the presence of gas inside houses and other buildings from outside, Pearson confirmed Wheeler’s suspicion, then called 911 to alert the Carrollton Fire and Police departments, which were dispatched at 10:46 a.m.
Workers determined the general area of the leak was near the north side of the intersection of Sixth and Hawkins streets, under the street between Al’s Mini Mart and the new River Reed Senior Living facility, which is not yet occupied.
As a precaution, Al’s Mini Mart was closed to reduce the risk of explosion. Police and fire personnel immediately began evacuating residents in the 700 block of Sixth Street within a 150-foot perimeter. Fire Chief Greg Beck said the evacuation was expanded to 500 feet, and officials then evacuatedresidents in the 800 block of Sixth, as well as those living on Hawkins between Fifth and Seventh streets.
A total of 40 residences were affected, Beck said. “Most people were at work, so we didn’t actually have to get too many people out.”
Only the residents of one home, near the outside of the evacuation area, were allowed to remain in place because one person there recently had surgery. Beck said they were advised not to open any doors or windows, to turn off their furnace and not use any light switches until given the all clear.
As crews zeroed in on the leak, residents were gradually allowed to return home. Beck said the evacuation was fully lifted by 8:30 p.m.
The leak was found about 10 p.m. and was determined to be coming from a faulty weld in a section of the gas line. That line was taken out of service to prevent further leakage. Beck said emergency officials cleared the scene about 10:15 p.m.
CU workers returned Wednesday to repair the line. Work was completed and the street was reopened to traffic at 11:05 a.m., Beck said.
In the news release, Richard Garriott, CU’s gas superintendent, said the people in the area were very understanding during the incident. “It was a cold, wet and windy night, and we had neighbors bringing us coffee during the night. Al’s [Mini Mart] even provided us food, once he was able to open the store up again.”
CU’s teams followed all established procedures for such an incident, Osborne said. “Our number-one priority in responding to gas leaks is the protection of life. Leaks like this are rare, but when they occur we approach each leak as a potentially dangerous occurrence with public safety at the heart of our response.”
Osborne encourages everyone to call 811 before digging to be sure there are no gas or other utilities buried underground and to always call 911 or the CU office at (502) 732- 7055 if they think they smell gas.
“Several people interviewed on Sixth Street [last week] told CU employees that they had smelled gas, but never called to report it,” Osborne said. “CU has staff on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We would much rather respond to a false alarm than have a real gas leak go unreported.”