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UPDATE: Gas line severed, repaired after homes evacuated in Abilene

By Ariana Garza, Weekend Anchor/Crime & Courts Reporter, agarza@ktxs.com
Published On: Mar 11 2013 10:29:05 AM CDT
Updated On: Feb 28 2013 05:58:38 PM CST
ABILENE, Texas -

A gas leak in a South Abilene neighborhood forced evacuations Thursday morning.

City of Abilene utility crews were repairing a water line just before 8 a.m. in the 1900 block of Ballinger Street when they accidentally severed a natural gas line, according to Abilene Fire Department Lt. Greg Goettsch.

“We found out that it was a 2-inch natural gas line that had been struck which puts out a significant amount of gas in a residential neighborhood,” Goettsch said.

Blake Sims said the damaged line was in his front yard and firefighters knocked on his door to tell him he was being evacuated.

“I was going to leave for work like it was a normal day and, yeah, by the time I was ready they said ‘get on out of there, grab what you need’--which was just phone and keys,” Sims said.

A total of 12 residents were evacuated. The city provided buses for them to sit in while they waited for Atmos Energy crews to stop the leak.

Goettsch said natural gas is not poisonous but it is flammable and could cause suffocation in large amounts. He said the cold morning air and low winds contributed to the high concentration Thursday.

Atmos stopped the leak around 10:20 a.m. and residents were allowed to go back inside their homes.