Archive for Thursday, July 15, 2010

Gas service restored to downtown businesses, street reopened

Workers hit a gas line in downtown Lawrence Thursday that caused several local businesses to close their doors. The gas line was hit during the annual Sidewalk Sale and businesses that had to close were not pleased.

July 15, 2010, 10:30 a.m. Updated July 15, 2010, 5:56 p.m.


Lawrence resident Toni Dudley knows the Downtown Lawrence Sidewalk Sale is always an adventure, but she didn’t quite realize what she was in for as she shopped for bargains Thursday morning inside Talbots.

“It couldn’t have come at a worse time,” Dudley said, after firefighters came into the store and the odor of gas wafted through the air.

Several downtown businesses had to be evacuated shortly after 10 a.m. when Westar crews doing routine maintenance on Seventh Street in the alley between Massachusetts and Vermont struck a 2-inch gas line.

Emergency crews blocked off that entire section of Seventh Street to both pedestrian and vehicle traffic for about an hour Thursday morning. The road was reduced to one lane until about 2 p.m.

“We knew with the sidewalk sale that we had a large number of pedestrians in close proximity, so we called for extra crews for crowd control and to check all the structures to make sure the gas was all outside and had not traveled into the basements of some of the downtown buildings,” Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Division Chief Joe Hoelscher said.

Curt Floerchinger, Black Hills Energy spokesman, said 31 customers were without gas service for three to four hours following the gas line break. The incident happened just as employees of Local Burger were preparing for the lunch hour rush.

“It’s a little devastating on a very big day,” Local Burger owner Hilary Brown said. “We had a big special going, but we can’t cook a burger or fry. It seems like not a good day to do some big digging next to a gas line.”

Westar spokesman Nick Bundy said the crews were doing routine work replacing an electric pole in the alley behind Starbucks. He said the initial report was that the gas line may have been mismarked.


gccs14r 7 years, 8 months ago

Again, why does Westar insist on using 19th century methods of power delivery? Bury the lines already.

Jeremy DeBoard 7 years, 8 months ago

I was thinking the same thing Hawker. Good to know the gas line did not ignite. That would be a bad situation much worse.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years, 8 months ago

No one really knows where the various lines for water, gas and sewer are downtown. Remember how that problem added months to the N. Lawrence road work? Their records are really poor in the oldest areas.

What's sad is how they will have to turn off the gas to all those restaurants to fix the line. Kinda puts a huge damper on the sidewalk sale fun.

kansasgirl99 7 years, 8 months ago

They did call to locate the lines. The markings where the gas company located the line were 3 ft. away from the actual location.

Boston_Corbett 7 years, 8 months ago

I thought that was the shoppers I was smelling.

Yoda51 7 years, 8 months ago

This is video of a gas explosion on 3/5/09 in Bozeman, MT, another small college town. This is what happens when utility companies use antiquated methods to deliver their services. Sadly, one person, a 36-year-old young woman, lost her life in this disaster. But there could have been far greater loss of life. As it is, an entire half block of historic downtown was destroyed.

igby 7 years, 8 months ago

Blackhills Energy is cursed and this is only the beginning. Watch the Black Magic!

igby 7 years, 8 months ago

When it's right it will be left. They see it and they will miss it. Anything that could happen will happen and then some until they are no more. On the first and the half, the quarter and the third, the five and the six until the eight is the seventh and the ninth is the eight. Duh Duh Doe.

igby 7 years, 8 months ago

The curse of the pecking Bird! The JayHawk!

Aquila was a much better run company!

BlackHills has too many employees and to support them their pillaging their clients for deposits disconnect and reconnect fees and service charges. Their cutting people off when their less than 10 days past due just to gab them for a fee and excessive deposit that's not a deposit but a service fee that go into their general fund. This is how they keep their overstaffed and badly run operation in Lawrence, funded.

factstraight 7 years, 8 months ago


Exact same company, same employees (actually less employees), same policies. Only thing that changed was the ownership. KCC ranks Black Hills Lawrence as one of the top run natural gas utilities in the state.

igby 7 years, 8 months ago

They paid for this rating. They're the worst company in America. They're going down just like BP. Watch and see as the eating begins.

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