Contractor breaks gas line

Brian Schaeffer, Assistant Chief, 509.625.7002

Monday, October 21, 2013 at 6:54 p.m.

Incident #: 2013048998
Issuing Officer: Craig Cornelius/Battalion Chief

Narrative: A four inch gas transmission line was damaged by a contractor's backhoe working at the intersection of Rockwood Blvd. and Sumner Ave. Fire Dispatch received a call for help a little after 11:00AM today and dispatched Spokane Fire Department resources to deal with the hazardous situation. Avista was immediately notified and their gas specialists quickly responded to the intersection. In addition, the Fire Department provided a total of 15 apparatus to help deal with the fire and safety issues.

Numerous residential structures border this intersection, to include several large apartment complexes and a church. Initial priorities were to protect the surrounding residents and prepare for evacuation if needed. Fire Divisions were set up for two of the largest complexes that house senior populations. These Fire Divisions worked with residents to eliminate ignition sources, shut down HVAC systems and close exterior openings into the structures. Gas monitoring was performed and occupants were moved to safe areas within the structures as necessary. Hydrant water supplies were secured in three locations and hose lines prepared. Assistance with traffic control was provided by the Spokane Police Department, and American Medical Response staged ambulances to assist with medical transport if needed.

Other fire resources were assigned into groups to protect the other exposures and back up the Avista personnel in their efforts to shut off the gas supplying the transmission line. The gas in the intersection is supplied from three directions. Avista's emergency plans were activated and their specialists shut valves off to the west and south of the intersection. To the east, Avista crews dug down to a third line, installed a valve and shut down the third supply leg feeding into the intersection.

Once the gas was completely shut off, a combination of Spokane Fire Department and Avista specialists monitored the surrounding structures and areas for gas accumulations. Areas were determined to be safe and the residents were allowed to return to their normal activity. There were no injuries reported at this incident. Avista reported that roughly 56 meter sites are without gas service. Avista will continue to work into the evening to restore service to these customers.

Resources from surrounding Fire Districts were requested to provide coverage at several city fire stations during this event.