Contractor hits gas line in Lynden, several houses evacuated

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDOctober 11, 2013 

LYNDEN - A contractor working in the area of Main and 7th streets hit a natural gas line Thursday evening, Oct. 10, causing a leak and forcing the evacuation of several nearby homes.

Lynden Fire Department responded and evacuated five to 10 houses, a total of less than 50 people, about 5:30 p.m., said Robert Spinner, assistant Lynden fire chief. No one was injured.

Residents were allowed to return to their houses about 9:30 p.m., Spinner said.

Interwest Construction Inc. has been working on the road in that area since July, said Mark Sandal, Lynden Public Works programs and environmental coordinator.

Cascade Natural Gas had put in a bypass to reroute the gas line during a bridge construction project.

Despite the new line being marked, crews struck it with a bulldozer moving dirt to fill an abutment for the bridge, according to Interwest.

Crews had to fix two parts of the line. The first fix was quick, but the second required jackhammering into the street a distance away, said Lynden Police Chief Jack Foster.

The leak affected nine customers while crews worked to repair the line, said Mark Hanson, a Cascade spokesman.

Firefighters provided a water curtain to prevent any natural gas from reaching a heat source while crews worked on repairs, Spinner said.

"Gas will dissipate quickly, as soon as it's released," Hanson said. "If it's in an open area, it's not building up."

Workers finished their repairs around midnight.

It was not clear how much natural gas escaped from the line.

"Often it's hard to estimate how much leaked out, depending on where the line is hit, and whether that's close to an area we can measure," Hanson said.

Reach Samantha Wohlfeil at 360-756-2803 or samantha.wohlfeil@bellinghamherald.com.

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