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Backhoe hits gas line in Forest Lakes subdivision; about 15 homes evacuated

Leak was contained about 11:35 a.m. Tuesday
Firefighters and the Black Hills gas company responded to a ruptured gas pipeline Tuesday in the Forest Lakes subdivision. About 15 homes were evacuated. (Courtesy of Upper Pine River Fire Protection District)

More than a dozen homes were evacuated Tuesday morning for a gas leak in the Forest Lakes subdivision north of Bayfield, according to the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District.

The leak was reported at 9:49 a.m. when a backhoe struck a 4-inch gas line near the intersection of Pine Top and Mesa Drive, said Bruce Evans, chief of the fire department.

No fire or explosion was associated with the ruptured pipeline, he said.

A 4-inch natural gas pipeline was hit by a backhoe Tuesday morning in the Forest Lakes subdivision north of Bayfield. About 15 homes were evacuated. The gas leak was contained by 11:35 a.m. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Fire crews were working with Black Hills gas company to stop the leak. Workers had to dig up both sides of the pipeline and clamp both sides of the line, he said.

The leak was contained about 11:35 a.m., and residents were being allowed to return to their homes. Firefighters went door-to-door to evacuate residents rather than doing a reverse-911 call, Evans said.

Air monitors were being used to watch for flammable or toxic levels of gas in the atmosphere, he said.

“Fortunately, there’s enough warm weather here and wind that it is dissipating,” he said.

Firefighters were investigating the nature of the work being done by the backhoe that caused the ruptured pipe, including whether the operator of the backhoe called appropriate agencies before digging.

Gas service was introduced to the Forest Lakes subdivision only a couple of years ago, so many residents are switching from propane to natural gas, which means the infrastructure network is constantly being expanded, Evans said.

shane@durangoherald.com

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