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Roads closed, some evacuated for short time after gas leak in Athens

WAAY 31 learned a contractor was digging a ditch or pond when they struck a six-inch pipeline, causing gas to leak out, which led to roads in the area being closed, and even forced some people from their homes.

Posted: Jan. 11, 2018 4:21 PM
Updated: Jan. 11, 2018 9:15 PM

Several people in the Tanner Crossroads area had to be evacuated from their homes Thursday morning after a contractor working in a backhoe hit a gas line that feeds into the city of Athens.

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The leak happened in a field behind Brownsferry Mercantile, off of Huntsville-Brownsferry Road.

Officials tell WAAY 31 the gas leak could have been a lot worse, and they say they're just thankful crews responded when they did.

“The good thing about it is that it’s warm. Had it been cold, it might’ve been a little bit of a different situation because that is the feeder line to Athens," said the manager of the City of Athens Gas Department, Steve Carter.

Carter says he's proud of how quickly crews responded and how professionally they handled the situation.

“All the neighbors could hear it," Carter said about the noise the leak made. "It sounded like a jet engine, because of six hundred pounds coming out of about a two-inch hole.”

The boom was so loud, one woman, who lives right across the street from where the leak happened, called her caregiver in a panic.

WAAY 31 talked to that caregiver--April Gordon--about the phone call she received Thursday morning.

“She was like, ‘Well, I’m scared.’ And I was like, ‘Well, what’s going on?’ And she was like, ‘I don’t know, there’s sirens and all kinds of stuff, and there was a loud noise,'" Gordon said.

WAAY 31 learned a contractor was digging a ditch or pond when they struck the six-inch American Midstream pipeline, causing gas to leak out, and leading to roads in the area being closed. Some of those roads included Huntsville-Brownsferry Road and U.S. 31.

The leak even forced some people on U.S. 31 and Pitts Boulevard from their homes.

“When I heard that they evacuated the area, that kind of made me nervous, because I knew she was here and she’s in a wheelchair," Gordon said.

Carter says, luckily, the evacuation didn't last long. The line was shut off and roads re-opened a short time later.

“All the folks of Athens will be good," Carter said. "They can turn those heaters on and use them.”

Carter tells WAAY 31 repairs will most likely be going on for the rest of the day Thursday, and possibly into the night, but he expects everything to be back to normal by Friday.

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