Jasper gas main break brings evacuations

From Local Sources

JASPER — Authorities carried out precautionary evacuations Monday morning when construction activity punctured a gas main at 36th and Newton streets.

General Utilities Manager Bud Hauersperger said a contractor working for the state at the intersection punctured a 2-inch gas line while auguring a hole, possibly for traffic light controls.

The leak reported shortly before 10:20 a.m. brought a response that included the Jasper Volunteer Fire Department, Jasper Police Department and Jasper Municipal Utilities’ gas personnel. A Memorial Hospital Emergency Medical Services ambulance was also called to the area on standby.

Winds were at 9 mph from the north at the time.

Authorities responded by securing a perimeter and blocking traffic throughout the area. Police and firefighters evacuated downwind businesses and homes along the Newton Street corridor from 30th to 36th streets and a block to the east, in the Villa Drive and Virginia Avenue areas. A few businesses to the north of 36th Street were evacuated because of their proximity to the scene, according to Fire Chief Kenny Hochgesang.

The leak was shut off shortly after 11 a.m. Municipal gas personnel then tested gas levels inside buildings.

Roadways reopened by 11:30 a.m.

“We had everybody on hand,” Hauersperger said. “The whole city did a good job” with firefighters and police officers going door to door to evacuate the area and, later, gas personnel advising evacuees it was safe to return.

Four fire trucks and 29 firefighters were on the scene for about an hour.

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