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Manatee Fla--8" Gas Line Leak and Explosion

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  • Manatee Fla--8" Gas Line Leak and Explosion

    Bay News 9

    Breaking News
    Gas leak forcing evacuations in Manatee County Tuesday, October 14th

    Four neighborhoods are being evacuated.
    A spokesman with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office says a backhoe struck a gas line in Manatee County just after 11:30 Tuesday morning.

    No injuries have been reported, but authorities are evacuating several neighborhoods near the intersection of 53rd St. East and U.S. 301. Residents of Lionshead, Gateway East, Gold Tree and the West Winds mobile home park are being asked to leave their homes.

    Larry Leinhauser, a spokesman with Manatee County’s Emergency Medical Services unit, says crews are at the scene.

    "What we know so far is that someone struck an eight-inch gas line," Leinhauser said. "We have been in touch with the gas company and we hope to work with them to get this capped as soon as possible."

    Linehauser says the process of removing the gas from the area and capping the leak could take up to five hours.

    Witnesses in the area say the smell of gas is permeating through the area.

    Tune in to Bay News 9 for more on this breaking story
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  • #2

    Posted on Wed, Oct. 15, 2003

    Gas leak rocks homes
    E. Manatee community evacuated after break
    Herald Staff Writers


    Emergency crews respond to a gas main break in East Manatee on Tuesday morning.

    EAST MANATEE - First their houses shook violently. Then came the pungent smell of gas and the evacuation order.

    About 100 homes in the Lion's Head community were evacuated late Tuesday morning after a major natural gas line was ruptured by construction equipment. Thousands of gas customers were left without service for hours.

    At 11:07 a.m., a backhoe operator was digging near Lion's Head around the 3900 block of 57th Drive East when he dug a 30-inch gash into a gas line owned by Florida Gas Transmission Inc., said Dave Bristow, spokesman for the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

    The three-hour leak left local emergency officials wondering why they didn't know where to shut off the gas.

    There was no explosion and no one was injured, but the rupture in the 8-inch line violently spat forth a geyser of natural gas 50 feet into the air and rattled nearby homes.

    Carol Moser was home recovering from knee surgery when the line broke.

    "I was scared to death. It almost sounded like a freight train in my ears," she said. "They heard it a mile away."

    She limped outside with her husband and saw people running covered in soot or dirt. The smell was overwhelming as they tried to evacuate the neighborhood.

    "They tell you to get out. I've got no shoes, I've got no medicine. I'm crying. They told us to get out, so I did," she said. "I kept thinking, 'I'm going to pass out behind the wheel.' "

    Evacuation ordered

    Within about 15 minutes of the gas break, the entire Lion's Head community was evacuated, said Foster Gover, fire marshal with Southern Manatee Fire Rescue.

    Emergency officials from the sheriff's office, Southern Manatee and Braden River Fire, and Manatee County Emergency Management sealed off a quarter-square-mile area to keep people at a safe distance. Several other nearby neighborhoods, such as Gold Tree, Braden Crossing, Garden Lakes, West Winds and Gateway East, were under a voluntary evacuation order.

    Two emergency shelters were set up, one at Woodland Baptist Church on State Road 70 and the South Branch YMCA at S.R. 70 and 37th Street East. Only about 10 people were at the shelters during the evacuation.

    Emergency officials also contacted the Manatee County School District to tell them to hold students who live in the Lion's Head community until the all-clear was given to return.

    Parents in the Lion's Head community were asked to pick up their children from school.

    Emergency officials did not know how many residents were evacuated.

    What went wrong?

    No one yet knows why the backhoe wound up anywhere near the gas line.

    Ollie Hart, an official with Woodruff & Sons Inc., the company doing the digging, said the crew was digging for a water main in the Lion's Head neighborhood.

    Hart said the site had been mapped out and fully marked for underground utilities and pipelines.

    Woodruff & Sons Inc. carries two state licenses for utility and excavation work, along with two other licenses for general contracting.

    "Apparently, they hit the gas line with the backhoe bucket," Hart said. "I just don't have all the details."

    Florida Gas wants details, as well.

    "We'll conduct a full investigation on that," said Gina Taylor, spokeswoman for Florida Gas.

    Fire officials also will be investigating.

    Gover said local fire officials deal with ruptured gas lines all the time. But because the rupture didn't involve a local company, local officials did not know how to shut off the pipe.

    "No one locally really oversees its care," Gover said.

    He said fire officials had no maps showing them where the shutoff valves were, meaning they had to wait for nearly three hours for Florida Gas to arrive and shut it off.

    Gover said that may need to change.

    "It's something that's going to have to be looked into," he said. "We can't be having another situation like this."

    Finally fixed

    The rupture sent millions of cubic yards of the highly flammable gas into the atmosphere and sounded like a jet engine getting ready to take off. Officials with Florida Gas said the pipe typically pumps 20-25 million cubic yards daily to People's Gas, the sole customer on the line.

    Company officials quickly tried to dispel concern about the gas leak.

    "It will just dissipate into the atmosphere," Taylor said. "As long as there's no ignition source, that will just dissipate."

    The natural gas spewed from the broken pipe until three Florida Gas employees arrived at the incident command center around 1:50 p.m. A little after 3 p.m., the gas leak was contained to a trickle.

    Bristow said the gas workers shut off two valves about three miles away and would be replacing the broken pipe with a 10-foot section of new piping.

    The county's public safety department alerted the media Tuesday night that Florida Gas would be conducting emergency maintenance on the line and purging the system, which was expected to create a "very loud rumbling sound" between 1 and 2 a.m. today in the area of 63rd Avenue and 17th Street East, the news release stated.

    Bristow said about 5,000 People's Gas customers would be without gas service for half a day. That service was expected to be restored today.

    Residents were allowed to return to their homes around 3:30 p.m. and the emergency shelters were shut down.

    The Lion's Head homes nearest to the leak were checked for any lingering gas, but the homes were deemed safe, Gover said.

    Bristow and Gover each said all the agencies involved worked quickly and effectively to make the area safe.

    "All in all, we've averted what would have been a disastrous situation," Bristow said.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.


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