Gas leak closes roads for repairs

Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
A Sheriff's deputy looks on as natural gas pours out of a ruptured pipe near the intersection of Wheeler Road and Walton Way Extension today.
  • Follow Metro

Commuters will have to work their way around Walton Way Extension between Wheeler and Jackson roads this morning, and maybe for several mornings to come.

Back | Next
Lt. Scott Gay, of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, uses a radio as natural gas pours out of a ruptured pipe near the intersection of Wheeler Road and Walton Way Extension.  Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Lt. Scott Gay, of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, uses a radio as natural gas pours out of a ruptured pipe near the intersection of Wheeler Road and Walton Way Extension.

Natural gas billowing from a ruptured pipeline was sealed off Wednesday, but traffic delays will continue as crews repair the asphalt after the two-hour leak.

"They hope to have (the road) open in the very near future, but they're scared to put a time frame on it," said Battalion Chief John Sheridan, of the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department. "We like the roadways to be clear and people going about their business, but we just don't know."

A construction contractor, Cable Connector Utilities, punctured the gas line while working on a horizontal bore project in front of First Baptist Church, Sheridan said. Boring is a method of drilling casings underground for utilities to pass through cable lines.

Normally, contracting companies use horizontal boring because it allows traffic to continue while workers drill under the asphalt with minimal excavation.

The natural gas, which is normally invisible, rose Wednesday looking like clouds of smoke as it carried dirt and asphalt into the air.

"The gas was forcing the ground under that road into the atmosphere," Sheridan said.

He said that because the rupture was an accident, the company will not face fines or charges for the leak but will be financially responsible for the repairs of the road.

Firefighters evacuated the buildings around the leak as a precaution in case it sparked a fire.

Laura Linn was working in her office at Unitarian Universalist Church of Augusta when a firefighter asked her and her co-workers to leave the building.

"My office is in the back, and I saw a big cloud coming across and I thought it was a dust storm," she said.

Linn grabbed a cup of coffee from the office coffee machine and waited for the clearance.

"I wasn't in that big of a hurry," she said. "I still thought to grab my coffee."

Office workers were stranded at the site for almost two hours as the fire department asked people not to move their cars or start the engines until the leak was contained.

Sheridan said that could have been what prevented the leak from turning into an explosion.

"(The leak) had the gas, the volume of gas, the air was there -- it just could not find an ignition source," he said. "Had it found an ignition source, we could have had a fire."

Two cars sat in the middle of the gas leak after two motorists abandoned them after driving straight into the cloud and realizing it was a gas leak.

Firefighters had to douse the cars with water to disperse the gas, and they were thankful the engines didn't turn the gas leak into an explosion.

"Some (drivers) just ride down the road looking to see what's going on in the road ahead of them," Sheridan said. "People do it, and people lose their lives."

Comments (13) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
sarmain
0
Points
sarmain 09/08/10 - 02:02 pm
0
0
Call before you dig....or

Call before you dig....or bore.

Fiat_Lux
14847
Points
Fiat_Lux 09/08/10 - 02:39 pm
0
0
Glad it hasn't turned into an

Glad it hasn't turned into an inferno. Having a fire station located within yards of the leak was definitely fortunate.

faithson
4785
Points
faithson 09/08/10 - 05:09 pm
0
0
been there, done that, got

been there, done that, got that t-shirt... glad no one 'lit it up'....

disssman
6
Points
disssman 09/08/10 - 06:57 pm
0
0
I wonder if the workers at

I wonder if the workers at nearby businesses are going to be placed on unpaid time because of this? Seeing as how they are probably not union, they will probably just be docked for the hours they didn't work and no one in the business community cares.

themaninthemirror
0
Points
themaninthemirror 09/08/10 - 07:31 pm
0
0
dissman, your comments are

dissman, your comments are completely assinine. My main concern if I worked in that area would be my safety and the safety of others. The heck with getting paid. If one wakes up in the morning in good health, one will get another opportunity to get paid.

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 09/08/10 - 08:31 pm
0
0
Is it true that block from

Is it true that block from where Jackson meets Walton Way Ext. to where Walton Way Ext meets Wheeler Road is going to be blocked off for a week or two while they repair the hole?

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 09/08/10 - 08:33 pm
0
0
Wow. I never really paid

Wow. I never really paid attention to that water tower before. We should be thankful that was not compromised or destroyed by the explosion. Was it affected at all by debris?

disssman
6
Points
disssman 09/08/10 - 09:21 pm
0
0
Mirrirman. It is a pleasure

Mirrirman. It is a pleasure to meet sopmeone who has no income worries in the world. For your info, most of those clerks working in thet area are probably living from payday-to-payday and a loss of a days salary is a big deal to them. And of course I am sure they all work in places that provide health care so they can run to the doctor in the morning for a health check. And I find your comments to be of the same drivel as all other CONServative comments about worker safety and unionization. All I was suggesting is that the companys get together and sue someone for lost wages. But apparently that is too much work for an overworked business owner.

dwb619
86931
Points
dwb619 09/08/10 - 10:19 pm
0
0
What explosion?

What explosion?

southern2
5433
Points
southern2 09/09/10 - 07:28 am
0
0
I was traveling on Walton Way

I was traveling on Walton Way EXT when the rupture occurred. There were a couple of workers in the road flagging traffic right over the leak. The asphalt initially bubbled up two lanes about 3 feet, lifting these guys before they ran away from it. The pressure found a seam in the asphalt in the middle of the road and began blowing through and lowering the bubble. I didn't hang around for any more of this. It looked like we were having an earthquake. The area was congested as usual and I thank God there were no injuries. This could have been devastating.

hopefulinaugusta
0
Points
hopefulinaugusta 09/08/10 - 11:10 pm
0
0
This is the 4th gas leak

This is the 4th gas leak caused by work crews that I know of in the last month alone in our area. Are we working with unskilled labor crews??? What is going on?

citizenofcsra
0
Points
citizenofcsra 09/09/10 - 05:10 pm
0
0
Lets get all the facts before

Lets get all the facts before we make informed comments. The company that did cause the damage is not at fault for the issue at hand. How this works is a work order is put in a job and what is required and then orders are sent in to all utilities companies for locates. That is were then send out people from there company or contract it out for another company to mark were they have equipment ect. in the ground. Then once that process is done and conformation is sent back to the company that sent out the request for the locates, the job may begin. Well the gas company sent a comformation letter stateing NO CONFLICT! Which means that they have nothing that will interfer with the job at hand and yes every utility company recieves job decription of task at hand. Well the gas company didnt think to locate the gas main that was about 4 feet in the ground or the county didnt locate the water main 6inches below that as well. Thankfully that company didnt hit that either. We all know this is nothing done on purspose and this is not an error on any unskilled crew, these people are not buring over glass! You can see whats under there! If underground construction companies cannot depend on locators for correct and accurate locates and proper information for utility companies themselves then there will most likely be more of these problems in the future.

hopefulinaugusta
0
Points
hopefulinaugusta 09/10/10 - 02:51 am
0
0
Thank you for that response

Thank you for that response citizenofcsra, I guess I should have said it was the 4th gas leak incident while work was being performed. While I fully understand your explanation, I think that this is a serious problem with deadly potential and it needs to be addressed at whatever level is necessary to stop these incidents from occuring.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Plane crashes on Ga. man walking Fla. beach

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Sometime Sunday morning, Ommy Irizarry posted a message on Facebook to mark his ninth wedding anniversary. Within hours he was dead.
Search Augusta jobs