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Natural gas leak forces evacuation

Emergency crews respond to a natural gas leak at 27th Avenue and 35th Street in downtown Vernon Wednesday morning. The road is currently under construction. - Lisa Vander Velde/Morning Star
Emergency crews respond to a natural gas leak at 27th Avenue and 35th Street in downtown Vernon Wednesday morning. The road is currently under construction.
— image credit: Lisa Vander Velde/Morning Star

Emergency personnel were left with a potentially dangerous situation in a downtown Vernon neighbourhood.

At about 10 a.m. Wednesday, a natural gas main was ruptured during road construction at 27th Avenue and 35th Street. That forced 72 residents out of the Ukrainian Village apartments while other neighbours were urged to stay inside and seal their doors and windows.

“Natural gas can be toxic at certain levels and it was getting into the Ukrainian Village,” said Lawrie Skolrood, Vernon deputy fire chief.

Another issue was the natural gas vapour being ignited.

“We were also concerned about the gas contacting a pilot light (and starting a fire).”

Fortis workers were on scene downtown immediately.

“The crew is turning the valves off and that stops the flow of gas through the pipe and prevents the leak,” said Michael Allison, Fortis spokesperson, Wednesday.

To try and bring the situation under control, Fortis B.C. shut off gas and electricity to 317 customers from 34th to 41st streets and 24th, 25th and 27th avenues at about 11:35 a.m

By 1:30 p.m., the gas line break was contained and residents could return to their homes.

Electrical power was restored by 3:15 p.m. and Fortis B.C. crews continued with repairs. Customers were without gas until late Wednesday until all repairs were done.

“The main issue we  are concerned with is safety,” said Allison.

 

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