BROOKINGS – The Brookings Fire Department was called to a gas leak at the Brookings County Highway shop Tuesday morning, which necessitated shutting down Brookings Area Transit Authority for a while, Fire Chief Darrell Hartmann said.
The leak was reported at 11:41 a.m. Tuesday and occurred at 422 Western Ave., he said.
“When I arrived on scene, I approached from the south – very strong odor. A contractor had accidently snagged a 1 1/4, 1 1/2 (inch) gas line feeding the county building. And we had a large loss of gas going on,” Hartmann said.
He shut down BATA, not letting anyone in or out, because its headquarters are on the county property. A spark from a passing vehicle could have ignited the gas, putting people in danger, he said.
“They (BATA workers) have to go – literally – right past the building to get in and out of the gate, so that’s why we had to shut BATA down,” Hartmann said. “Fortunately, it wasn’t very long.”
The Brookings Police Department shut down Western from Railroad to Sixth Street.
“We shut traffic down solely for the safety of personnel working on the scene. We stacked units on the north side. The wind was out of the north blowing south, so we weren’t in the gas plume,” Hartmann said. “Technically, we had blocked the street with our apparatus anyway.”
Northwestern Energy arrived on scene and clamped the gas line off, Hartmann said.
“Once the gas company had the gas off, our crews entered in protective gear with gas sensors. We opened windows and doorways to evacuate the gas from the building,” Hartmann said. “Once we had a clear reading in the building, we turned it back over to the property owner and allowed BATA to resume.”
“Currently, I believe the gas company has to replace everything from the main in the road all the way to the building, but the gas leak itself was stopped relatively quick,” he said.
There were no injuries, Hartmann added.
His crews were busy last week.
“We had 15 firefighters at state fire school this weekend in Mitchell,” Hartmann said. The personnel were training from Thursday afternoon to Saturday evening.
“Some excellent training provided,” Hartmann commented.
Contact Jodelle Greiner at [email protected]