Provo residents allowed to return home following gas leak

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PROVO -- Hundreds of Provo residents are returning home now that an evacuation order for their neighborhood has been lifted.

Provo police ordered the evacuation around 3 p.m. Thursday after a construction crew punctured a natural gas pipeline near 1860 South and State Street. The crew was working on the Central Utah Water Project when its equipment accidentally ruptured the 16-inch gas pipe.

Questar crews are still working on fixing the pipe, but the gas has been shut off in the area and police say it is safe for residents to return home.

Provo City administrators say 1,000 people were evacuated in an area from State Street to Alabama Avenue and Dakota Avenue to 1860 South. Police used the reverse 911 system and went door to door to let residents know they needed to get out.

"All of the sudden, they knocked on our door and told us to get out," said Provo resident Bambi Strauss. "We opened up the door, and you could smell the gas so bad."

Evacuees were asked to go to Spring Creek Elementary School where the Red Cross provided food and drinks as residents waited for the all clear to be given. That evacuation center has now closed.

If residents smell gas after they return home, they're asked to call Questar at 1-800-767-1689 to report it.

Meanwhile, fixing a leak in a main gas line under high pressure is difficult and potentially dangerous. Crews are being cautious while making the repairs.

"This is a big pipe. This is a 16-inch gas pipeline, and it's not as easy as turning back on itself or even finding a valve," said Lynn Schofield with the Provo Fire Department.

Once the repairs to the line are made, Questar will test the pipe before turning the gas back on.

The Utah Department of Transportation has closed State Street from 1860 South in Provo to 1400 North in Springville to allow crews room to fix the leak.

An investigation into how and why the gas line was hit is also underway.


Story compiled with contributions from Sam Penrod, Randall Jeppesen and Paul Nelson.


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