Gas leak spurs evacuations

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By The Staff

A broken natural gas line forced the evacuation of several Bergen Park homes on Tuesday morning and prompted a temporary lockdown at Bergen Valley Elementary School.

According to Einar Jensen, spokesman for Evergreen Fire/Rescue, a private contractor working on Black Eagle Drive severed the pipe about 10 a.m. At least 20 firefighters and several sheriff’s deputies responded, and residents living near the site were moved a safe distance away until the leak could be repaired.

“The kids at Bergen Valley were sheltered in place,” Jensen said. “They shut down the school’s heating and air-conditioning units to keep gas from being drawn into the building, but the situation didn’t warrant moving them.”

Just in case the unlucky contractor forgot to report the incident, dozens of alert Bergen Park citizens put the word out.

“Both EFR and the sheriff’s office were inundated by calls from people all over the area who could smell the gas,” said Jensen. “That gave us a pretty good idea how big the cloud was, and it was really big.”

Fortunately, it took an Excel Energy crew only an hour to seal off the leak, and the neighborhood quickly returned to normal. Although Excel spokesman Tom Henley couldn’t say just how much natural gas was lost, he did say that no one lost service during the incident.