Gas Leak Causes Evacuations, Delays Release of Students

Justin de Ruyter, Spokane Fire PIO,

Wednesday, December 13, 2023 at 8:26 a.m.

At 2:57 this afternoon, the Spokane Fire Department responded to a natural gas leak reported at the intersection of West Shawnee Ave and North Woodridge Dr.

Engine 17 arrived in less than five minutes and was met by utility workers installing fiber optic lines who reported a severed 4” natural gas line near the sidewalk of the intersection. Additional firefighters arrived at the scene and quickly evacuated eight homes in the immediate area. They also secured a water supply from the local hydrant and deployed a protection hoseline.

Simultaneously, Woodridge Elementary School implemented a lockdown, delaying student release. Spokane Fire acknowledges the collaborative efforts of Spokane Public Schools and Woodridge Elementary staff, who coordinated with incident command for an orderly release, ensuring the safety of students.

Upon arrival, Avista Utilities proposed a strategic solution. Instead of shutting down gas service to multiple customers, they decided to dig four additional holes nearby to clamp the lines adjacent to the leak. Throughout the incident, firefighters diligently monitored the area with gas detectors, noting no significant gas readings. Fortunately, the leak, being far from structures, allowed natural gas to disperse harmlessly into the atmosphere. However, the added odorant, heavier than air, led to concerns from residents southwest of the incident who reported smelling it.

Despite the potential hazards, there were no injuries to citizens or firefighters, and no additional damages were reported except for the ruptured section of the gas line. Repairs were completed at 6:07 p.m. Firefighters cleared the incident, and evacuated residents were safely allowed to return home.

Spokane Fire extends gratitude to Woodridge Elementary, Spokane County Fire District 9, and Avista Utilities for their valuable assistance during this incident.