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Gas Main Struck, Homes Evacuated

Four homes in College Heights were evacuated Monday night.

A utility crew working with a backhoe to repair a water main break struck a natural gas line, causing the evacuation of several residences in College Heights Monday night, said Michael Jones, Deputy Fire Chief, Fredericksburg Fire Department, in a press release.

All homes in the area were monitored for the presence of gas in the buildings, and at least one was ventilated of the fumes after the flow of gas was stopped.

Fredericksburg Emergency Communications received a 911 call at 10:17 p.m., reporting an outside natural gas leak in the vicinity of Brent Street and Rappahannock Avenue. 

Fredericksburg Fire Department units discovered a city utility crew had struck the two-inch gas main while digging in the street near this intersection. Gas was actively spewing from the trench and filling the air surrounding the excavation site, Jones said. 

Fire crews immediately conducted atmospheric monitoring to determine if there were unsafe levels of the gas present, Jones said.

Four residences near the intersection were evacuated. All homes in the area were monitored, as well as outside areas surrounding the incident scene to see if the vapors were spreading. A safety zone was established and all ignition sources in the vicinity were shut down.

With cold weather conditions present, a bus from Fredericksburg Regional Transit [FRED] was brought to the scene to provide temporary shelter for those temporarily displaced by the leak.  A total of six citizens used the FRED bus for a place of refuge during the call.

While Fire Department units were responding to the scene, they requested a response from Columbia Gas Systems to assist with stopping the leak. Columbia representatives arrived at 11:01 p.m. and had the leak stopped at 11:20 p.m. 

After the leak was stopped, Fire Department and gas company personnel monitored the affected areas until gas levels were well within safe limits.  One home on Rappahannock Avenue was ventilated by the Fire Department to help reduce gas levels in the structure.

All citizens were allowed to return to their residences at midniht. Gas company personnel remained on the scene to make sure the leak was secure, and to develop a plan for repairing the damaged line.

No injuries to firefighters or civilians were noted.

Michael Jones, Deputy Fire Chief, Fredericksburg Fire Department, provided this information to Fredericksburg Patch in a press release.

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