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The Daily Wildcat

81° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

First Street gas leak causes brief closure, evacuation

A construction crew using a backhoe struck two parallel gas lines causing a natural gas leak on First Street just west of Cherry Avenue on Friday morning.

According to Tucson Fire Department Deputy Chief Patrick Quinn, buildings within a 150-foot radius of the leak were evacuated. They included the Alpha Delta Pi and Delta Gamma sorority houses, the Sigma Chi fraternity house and the Little Chapel of All Nations Church.

After evacuating the area, TFD alerted Southwest Gas to come and pinch the lines.

“Natural gas, in and of itself, is pretty safe,” Quinn said. “But if there’s any type of breeze it can be blown under eaves, it can get blown into dead spaces of a building … then all of sudden you have an explosion, or at least a real rapid fire.”

TFD protocol requires that, when a gas leak occurs that cannot be turned off at the meter, the area be evacuated and a hazardous material team eradicate the gas in the surrounding location. Quinn added that, while natural gas explosions have never happened in his 27 years with the department, they still happen several times a month throughout the country.

The leak was fixed between 11 a.m. and noon, and the evacuation has been lifted on all the buildings. Traffic on First Street west of Cherry is no longer blocked.

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