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Residents allowed to return home after gas leak in Bayfield

Classes at primary school resume as normal
A gas leak near Clover Drive and Currant Drive in Bayfield led to several homes being evacuated in the area. The Bayfield Primary School was also sheltering in place. (Melanie Mazur/Special to the Herald)

Residents were being allowed to return home after being evacuated Friday morning in Bayfield when a contract crew cut through a gas line.

The gas leak was reported about 10 a.m. in the area of Clover Drive and Currant Drive, according to Bayfield town government. The gas line had been clamped and people were being allowed to return home as of 11:30 a.m., according to the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District.

The gas leak was caused by a contractor doing excavation work in the 700 block of Currant Drive, said Fire Chief Bruce Evans. He said the gas line was marked with a locator flag, but the marker was off by about 14 inches.

The gas line had no shut-off valves in the immediate vicinity, and the closest shut-off valve was two or three blocks away, which would have cut off gas to the whole south side of Bayfield, he said. Instead, workers clamped the pipeline.

An electric wire is supposed to run along the gas line to make it easier to locate, but the wire appeared damaged or missing in the area of the leak. It was unknown if the wire was missing before the accident or if it was damaged during excavation.

A reverse 911 call advising people to evacuate was placed to residents within a quarter-mile of the gas leak.

Bayfield School District Superintendent Kevin Aten said the wind was blowing in the opposite direction of the primary school, and the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District has said it was fine for students to shelter in place, meaning classes resumed as normal.

“At this point, they said we’re fine to remain in school,” Aten said shortly after 10 a.m. Friday. “But we have a plan in place to evacuate if necessary. The kids will probably remain inside until they get it fixed.”

Residents being evacuated were encouraged to go to the Pine River Senior Center at 111 W. South St. or Bayfield Town Hall at 1199 Bayfield Parkway to await further updates.

About a dozen people showed up at the Pine River Senior Center as of 11 a.m., said Monika McKennie, community engagement assistant with the town.

She said residents from the Clover Meadows and Mesa Meadows subdivisions came to the shelter.

"Some of them have their dogs and I think animals in the car," McKennie said.

Crews were expected to remain on-site for most of the day repairing the line.

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