Gas leak prompts evacuations

Published 6:00 am Monday, February 2, 2009

A gas leak at McKenzie Metals Friday afternoon forced theevacuation of several homes and businesses and the blockage of twolocal roads until the situation was secured, authorities said.

Lincoln County Civil Defense Director Clifford Galey said thegas leak began around 3:21 p.m. when the blade on a frontend loaderthat was pushing tin broke a 2-inch natural gas line. It wasteamwork of emergency response personnel and the good will of localbusinesses that kept the confusion to a minimum at the scene, hesaid.

“Due to quick response of the Brookhaven Police Department andthe Brookhaven Fire Department, we were able to evacuate the areaquickly and safely,” Galey said. “And we’re grateful to the peopleat Packard Electric for letting us put the business employees whowere evacuated in their break room until we could get them to wherethey needed to go.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson said Sawmill and Behanroads had to be evacuated, but that it was done efficiently andwithout incident.

Brookhaven Fire Department officials said the situation causedthe evacuation of five house trailers, a radio station, and officepersonnel at Allied Industries and Ability Works, as well asemployees at Gordon Redd Lumber Company, McKenzie Metals andL&S Tools.

Galey said around 30 people were evacuated.

“It was purely precautionary because it was a 2-inch highpressure natural gas line,” he said. “The natural gas is lighterthan the air and it goes up and dissipates quickly with the wind.When the sun went down, the wind died down and it was a little moredangerous, so we had to make sure that within a half mile or so nopilot lights or cigarettes or anything were burning.”

Galey said the area was secured until around 9 p.m. Friday. Hesaid gas company officials were able to trace the line to thecorresponding shut-off valves and worked through Friday night toget the line repaired.