Find out what caused a natural gas leak on Thursday that had first responders evacuating a neighborhood
ONTARIO — Utility crews were doing clean-up work at a Cascade Natural Gas station in Ontario on Tuesday morning when a leak caused the evacuation of a nearby neighborhood.
According to Mark Hanson, spokesman for Cascade Natural Gas, the work performed included digging up a tree stump.
“Our 2-inch natural gas line was tangled in the stump, and while working to get it untangled a hole was poked in the line,” wrote Hanson in an email.
The leak was shutdown in about 15 minutes, which was followed by repairing the line and restoring service to seven customers who were affected, he said.
Ontario Fire Department was dispatched to the surrounding area at about 9:16 a.m. to help set up road blocks. Ontario Fire Chief Terry Leighton said there were eight firefighters who went door to door and evacuated approximately 50 to 75 homes.
The neighborhood impacted included Northwest Tenth Street, Leighton said, from Southwest Fourth to Southwest Second avenues, and across Second Avenue, heading west to a loop in the Chukar Ridge area.
Fire crews were assisted by Ontario Police Department’s Code Enforcement officer Dallas Brockett and some other volunteers with Citizens on Patrol, according to Leighton.
By 10:38 a.m., firefighters had cleared the area.
Neighborhood had 3 schools
Officials at schools nearby the leak reacted differently to the gas leak. Because the leak was only four blocks north of Ontario High School, district officials opted to move the students from the school to the auditorium at Four Rivers Cultural Center.
The move was done via escorting students who walked about three-quarters of a mile, with a personal escort from an Ontario Police officer.
“Everything went exceptionally smoothly,” wrote Taryn Smith, Public Relations and Communications Coordinator for the Ontario School District, in an email.
This included “calm and respectful students” and administrators who were “on site ASAP and ready to get students where they needed to be.”
“We are so proud of both students and staff and thankful for parents’ patience as we released updates,” wrote Smith.
“Cascade Gas was great,” Leighton said.
The utility company had monitors and “we were all working together,” Leighton said on going through the high school to be sure it was clear, as well as St. Peter Catholic School, a private school in the nearby vicinity. That school did not evacuate, according to Principal Armida Hernandez.
Smith said Cascade Natural Gas crews and the Ontario school maintenance crews checked Aiken Elementary on Thursday morning, as well; however, no evacuations were done there.
At the high school, Smith said maintenance crews “took extra precautions to ‘blow out’ the hallways,” ensuring safety for students and staff.
Ontario Police, again, escorted the students, who arrived back at the high school just in time for lunch.
Smith expressed gratitude to both Ontario fire and police departments.
“I am amazed at their willingness to jump into action to assist in getting our students to a safe location,” she said.
A big thanks was also expressed to staff at the Cultural Center, who “kindly opened their building to us at a moment’s notice,” Smith said.
“Having such accommodating community partners really does help when quick decisions are needing to be made,” she said.