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Gas leak causes brief evacuation

BY Kaitlin Gebby - kgebby@wabashplaindealer.com

A natural gas leak on Columbus Street caused an evacuation and sent repair crews to the site for several hours on Tuesday.

A wastewater crew working on a drainage project for the City of Wabash was digging in the area when they hit a natural gas line, according to city officials. County EMA Director Keith Walters said the leak started around 9:15 a.m. Tuesday, and he was called to the intersection along with the fire department to block Columbus Street at Ind. 15. A Nipsco team from Gary came to the site of the leak to make repairs around 11:30 a.m.

Homeowners were evacuated from the area due to a potential fire hazard, Walters said. He added that in the few gas leaks that he’s experienced as EMA director, monitoring the direction and speed of the wind is key. Walters said a windy day could have caused more evacuations Tuesday.

Before the gas leak, Wastewater Management Superintendent Bob Gray said crews were working on a stormwater project to assist with local drainage in the area. Wastewater had been working to replace stormwater pipes with wider ones for three to four weeks and are expected to finish by the spring.

Around 1 p.m., officials gave the all clear and said homeowners could return and drivers were allowed back on the road. Gray said it may take the Nipsco crew a few days to completely repair the pipe, but it likely won’t affect their predicted deadline for the stormwater project.