Two gas line ruptures occur during cold snap

Thursday, November 30, 2006
From left, Empire Gas worker Don Moore of Sedalia, and an unidentified man work to seal off a gas leak at the intersection of Jefferson and Eastwood in Marshall at about 7:45 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 30. The leak was one of two that apparently occurred as a result of cold weather causing equipment failures, according to Jim Hargrove, operations supervisor for Empire.

Although a winter storm expected to hit Wednesday night, Nov. 29, did not materialize, the rapid 20-degree drop in temperature apparently contributed to two gas line ruptures, one of which disrupted early-morning traffic near downtown Marshall.

One gas line break occurred at the intersection of Jefferson and Eastwood, just northeast of the City Office Building.

Jim Hargrove of Marshall, operations supervisor for Empire Gas, said he received the call about the leak at about 4 a.m. He called in a crew of seven workers from the area and with the help of Marshall Municipal Utilities the leak was sealed off at about 7:45 a.m.

The leak appeared to be caused by icing, he said, after temperatures dropped from 42 degrees Wednesday to 21 degrees overnight.

Hargrove estimated repairs would take several hours at the Eastwood-Jefferson site and crews would then move to a second leak near the intersection of Navajo and Seminole streets.

MMU's help, which included use of a backhoe with a jackhammer, made the process go much faster, he said.

"Monty Chase volunteered his people" and equipment, Hargrove said. "I really appreciate that. If we'd had to jack hammer it ourselves we'd still be at it."

Marshall police reported that two residents of a home near Jefferson and Eastwood were evacuated for a short time and the City Office Building was closed while workers sealed the leak.

Hargrove said several nearby businesses inquired about safety but brisk wind helped the situation by dispersing the escaping gas quickly.

"It was ventilating good," he said. "We didn't really have a problem."

Changes in pressure caused by the leaks caused gas regulators to vent to relieve pressure, Hargrove said.

"They were doing just what they are designed to do," he said.

A news release from the Marshall Police Department noted a number of reports of gas odor and that the first reports came from a resident of Viking Lane at about 2:20 a.m.

Reports of gas odor also came from a residence hall at Missouri Valley College and from a business in the 1500 block of South Odell, according to police.

MacDonald Hall on the MVC campus was evacuated for about 45 minutes, according to Mark Gooden, MVC director of security.

Gooden said a student called him at 2:40 a.m. to report hearing a popping noise. About 100 residents were moved to the Ferguson Center while maintenance workers shut off gas in MacDonald Hall as a precaution and aired out the building, he said.

Three residents who live near the leak at Navajo and Seminole were evacuated, according to police.

The leak at Jefferson and Eastwood was discovered by a Saline County Sheriff's Deputy, police said.

Another winter storm is expected to pounce on mid-Missouri Thursday evening, Nov. 30, so it's time for motorists to recall safe winter driving practices.

The National Weather Service has issued a heavy snow warning that includes Saline County from noon Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday, Dec. 1. A foot or more of snow could fall during that time.

The Missouri Office of Homeland Security offers the following tips for driving on snow and ice.

-- Slow down.

-- Keep your gas tank and windshield washer fluid reservoir full.

-- Allow additional stopping distance on any road that is not dry.

-- Don't be overly confident in a four-wheel drive vehicle. Four-wheel drive doesn't mean you can stop faster.

-- "Countersteer" to regain control in a skid. Steer the car in the same direction that the back end of the car is going.

-- Check the website of the National Weather Service if you are planning to drive a long distance or in another part of the country. It's always good to know what weather to expect.

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