Updated Tuesday, 7:33am
A cable TV crew sliced a 4-inch gas line off West Catawba Avenue at Old Jetton Road at around 5pm Monday, causing a gas leak that took hours to control. The incident forced evacuation of the surrounding area and closed West Catawba at rush hour. The road was still closed at 9:15pm, but reopened overnight.
“It’s a traffic nightmare, one CorneliusNews.net reader said of the road closing. Hours later, firefighters and a crew from Piedmont Natural Gas still had not shut off the leak. The line finally was clamped at just before 9pm, and tired firefighters from area towns began clearing the scene.
At 6:30pm, a thick cloud of gas was still visible, and gas could be smelled a block away, according to James Sanders of Cornelius, who also happened to be passing through the area.
“The column of gas that’s come up out of there is amazing,” Sanders said.
The leak was at 19453 W. Catawba Ave., next to a parking lot off Old Jetton Road. Fire companies from Cornelius and Huntersville, as well as a special hazardous materials unit from Charlotte responded. Davidson firefighters were handling other calls for Cornelius and other area fire companies were on standby to handle calls for companies on the scene.
At around 6:15pm, a dispatcher reported via fire radio that news helicopters had been ordered away from the area. Emergency workers also were herding passersby away from the leak.
A construction crew from Piedmont Natural Gas arrived on scene around 7:15pm and began working on the cut line.
Cornelius Fire Department said the line was cut by a Time Warner Cable crew digging a cable trench through the area.
West Catawba Avenue was closed between Jetton and Bethel Church roads, near the Walgreen’s pharmacy. Eastbound traffic was being sent onto Jetton Road Extension, toward the Aquesta Bank headquarters.
Photo from Huntersville Fire Department on the scene:
Huntersville Fire Department report on the incident, , at http://www.huntersvillefd.com/