By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
The evacuation order for the downtown area of Bowling Green has been lifted. Residents and business owners are able to return to the area, according to Bowling Green Police Division.
Parts of Main and Clough streets will remain closed while repairs are being completed.
Anyone returning to their businesses or homes should contact Columbia Gas or the Bowling Green Police Division if they smell natural gas so the location can be inspected, according to Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett.
A portion of downtown Bowling Green was evacuated after a gas line was struck around noon. People were asked to leave the area quickly and calmly. The order was lifted around 3:30 p.m.
City fire and police personnel went door to door asking businesses and residents to evacuate the area along South Main Street from Wooster to Washington streets, and Clough Street from South Prospect to South Church streets.
“We are evacuating everyone in the area to make sure they are safe,” said City Engineer Mike Trinity.
A Columbia Gas crew arrived on the scene around 12:30 p.m.
Fire Chief Bill Moorman, who was downtown assisting with the evacuation, said it was a main gas line that was struck by a piece of excavation equipment working on the water and sewer line construction downtown.
“So it’s a pretty big leak,” Moorman said. “We’re asking people to leave as calmly and quickly as they can.”
Crews backfilled dirt over the leak in an effort to slow the release.
But monitoring equipment was showing “extremely high levels of gas,” the fire chief said. Though measuring at explosive levels, the gas was in an open environment, reducing the risks.
“We’re continuing to monitor the environment,” Moorman said.
The city’s public works department will be meeting with the contractor to determine how the gas main was struck.
“They will get more information from the contractor on what exactly caused this,” Fawcett said.
The gas leak and evacuation come one day after a water line was hit during construction downtown. Water was off for some areas of the downtown for a portion of Monday morning. A boil advisory continues for some water customers today, according to BG Public Utilities Director Brian O’Connell.
Fawcett expressed his thanks for cooperation during the construction problems.
“We appreciate the public’s patience in this process,” Fawcett said. “We recognize this is a problematic situation. It’s far from ideal for businesses and residents.”