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Archive for Friday, September 18, 2009

Large gas line breaks in North Lawrence; smell covers wide swath of city

Reed Medical Group evacuates employees, patients, shuts down for day

Staff and patients of the Reed Medical Group, 404 Maine St., were evacuated outside their building Friday morning after a nearby gas leak. Reed Medical Group decided to close for the day.

Staff and patients of the Reed Medical Group, 404 Maine St., were evacuated outside their building Friday morning after a nearby gas leak. Reed Medical Group decided to close for the day.

September 18, 2009, 10:29 a.m. Updated September 18, 2009, 12:54 p.m.

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North Lawrence gas break spreads smell across town

A gas line break in North Lawrence caused havoc around town Friday morning. Enlarge video

Gas line ruptures in North Lawrence

Lawrence Douglas County Fire and Medical crews work at the scene of a natural gas line rupture Friday morning in North Lawrence. Firefighters evaluated Bert Nash, Lawrence Memorial Hospital and the Reed Medical Group for natural gas levels after the leak. Enlarge video

A significant gas line break Friday morning in North Lawrence sent emergency crews scrambling to multiple parts of the city, forced train traffic in the city to be shut down and prompted a medical office to close for the day.

The four-inch gas line rupture was a direct result of the ongoing construction project at Second and Locust streets and caused the distinct smell in natural gas to waft over not only the immediate area of the leak, but also as far as a mile away.

Curt Floerchinger, Black Hills Energy spokesman for Kansas, said a construction worker caused the leak by hitting the line with a backhoe. It happened in an area alongside the Union Pacific train tracks where crews are building a temporary stockpile area for the road construction project, the city said.

Trains on the Union Pacific track were stopped in both directions until Black Hills Energy crews could stop the flow of natural gas from the ruptured line.

Gas was shut off to about 20 customers in an adjacent mobile home park while crews worked to fix the line, Floerchinger said. The problem was fixed by Friday evening.

According to Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical officials, there were numerous calls about the rotten eggs-like odor from all over the city.

“I was down there and it was making me nauseous,” Floerchinger said.

Emergency crews responded to both sides of the train tracks near where the leak occurred and to areas south of the Kansas River, like the Pinckney neighborhood, where paramedics responded to at least four people who reported they were overcome by the natural gas odor. A fire official said none of the patients required hospitalization.

Firefighters evaluated Bert Nash, Lawrence Memorial Hospital and the Reed Medical Group, but determined natural gas levels were safe for people to remain in those buildings.

The Reed Medical Group building, 404 Maine, was evacuated and several people complained of feeling ill after being exposed to the natural gas odor. Employees at the building were sent home for the day and patients with appointments were turned away.

“The fumes are overcoming; a lot of people have dizziness and headaches,” said Barbara Walters, an employee of the office. “Just to be on the safe side and for everyone’s health, we’re just going ahead and shutting down.”

Floerchinger said the odor was never a major risk to anyone. He said natural gas itself doesn’t smell and that people smelled a potent chemical that’s added to the gas to alert people of leaks.

Comments

BigPrune 4 years, 7 months ago

At least nobody struck a match. There could've been a big kaboom-boom.

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kansasfire911 4 years, 7 months ago

"The four-inch gas line rupture was a direct result of the ongoing construction project at Second and Locust streets..."

Well that took longer than I thought. It was a matter of time.

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ku_tailg8 4 years, 7 months ago

How do those commercials go...? Call before you dig?

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Steven Gaudreau 4 years, 7 months ago

Excavating Co. working on a city job hit the line. I would assume the excavator will have a large bill on Monday.

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firemedic301 4 years, 7 months ago

That's going to be an expensive fix, because when Union Pacific has to shut down the line it cost $3,000 per train per hour. I have a feeling the construction company will be getting a very large bill.

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Jonathan Kealing 4 years, 7 months ago

smitty- Nah, that was a microwave that either caught fire or food inside caught fire.

Jonathan Kealing Online editor

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smitty 4 years, 7 months ago

Was this the reason that the fire dept/ambulance vented the church(Plymouth?) on Vermont around 11 am?

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puddleglum 4 years, 7 months ago

ahh the smell of roasting dog food mixed with natural gas....'tis a wee bit of a whiff of home, takes me back to ksu football.

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jumpin_catfish 4 years, 7 months ago

I been a little gasy myself today. ;-)

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farfle 4 years, 7 months ago

a good reminder to call before you dig

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sassypants 4 years, 7 months ago

I sure pitty anyone that came across the bridge while the trains were stopped. Having to deal with the construction and getting across the tracks. Bet it was a long wait. Anyone know how long the wait was before the trains started moving again?

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Pat Long 4 years, 7 months ago

No luck, folks...wind continues from the ENE. The scent of roasting dog food grains and the gas smell over the industrial park tonight! Gonna be a long shift....

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countrygirl 4 years, 7 months ago

7 mph wind from the north east. Should blow it right towards campus. Makes me glad I live north of town but getting home could be fun.

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Multidisciplinary 4 years, 7 months ago

gnome might be busy today...

jk..have the trains restarted yet?

It states "were" and "could" as if they are running again, but I wanted to be sure.

(Quite a chain reaction for the UP lines to shut down, some old men behind computers had to get excited for a while, probably write up a report) ;)

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staff04 4 years, 7 months ago

How's the weather in Lawrence today? I hope there's a breeze to help dissipate that stink!

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be_cunning 4 years, 7 months ago

Today may be the rare (cough only cough) day that I'm thrilled that I work in Topeka.

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waswade 4 years, 7 months ago

I live near LMH but smelled it at the 6th and Iowa off ramp. Stinky and scary.

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Shane Garrett 4 years, 7 months ago

skip out of Lawrence and attend the Aggievill music festival in Manhattan Friday nite and Saturday!

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RoeDapple 4 years, 7 months ago

Gnome! Flush and close the door!

8-(

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Practicality 4 years, 7 months ago

Whats the skinny Gnome? We know you will know the details.

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Jonathan Kealing 4 years, 7 months ago

consumer1--

Doesn't seem like it was in the construction site, but we're still nailing down details. More updates here as we get them.

Jonathan Kealing Online editor

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consumer1 4 years, 7 months ago

I s this leak in the construction site? What caused the leak? Who discovered it? Who will pay for the repairs?

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