Adams County gas leak offers a lesson for crews and homeowners

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HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, ADAMS COUNTY, Pa. -- A gas leak accident in Adams County had one New Oxford family shaken up.

It happened around 7:30 p.m. Thursday night, in the 3300-block of Carlisle Pike after a contractor backed a pickup truck into a gas valve.

Crews were out most of the day Friday making repairs. The accident serves as a lesson both for crews and homeowners.

Natural gas can't be seen, but the family who lived next door to the regulator station where the leak happened, could hear it.

Ashley Clapsadl said "we heard a loud noise and we really didn't know, and we were trying to look out the windows, and just kind of see what was going on."

Sam Aguilera said "I came out, and started looking, I knew right away it was natural gas. I just told everybody we can't be here, you know. We need to go. Within five minutes of it happening, we just left."

Dozens of families were evacuated in the the area surrounding the gas leak, but getting away from it is just one safety precaution to take for anyone who smells gas.

Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania Communications Manager Russ Bedell said "they should not use a cell phone. If it's something they smell a gas leak even inside, you shouldn't flip light switches. Don't do a garage door opener, don't open the doors to vent just evacuate, and call 911."

The cause of the Adams County leak wasn't a faulty pipe, but an accident.

"A contractor working at that regulator station site, moved the truck into a position that damaged a valve, and it released the natural gas and high pressure into the air," Bedell said.

Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania took action to prevent a similar accident with a valve on Aguilera's property.

"A couple years ago, they installed those safety poles, right there. Usually, if somebody backs up, they'll hit them first. I don't know how this over here happened," Aguilera said.

It's an answer that Columbia Gas officials are looking into, as crews fix the damaged valve.

"After any situation, where something has gone wrong, we study that. There's an investigation, and we figure out what are the correct next steps to make the situation safer in the future," Bedell said.

Service wasn't lost while crews made repairs, but that isn't most people's concern.

"If somebody accidentally damaged a line in their yard, or something like this, the first thing is the safety of everybody, so we want to make sure that the situation is safe, assess the situation, and get that gas shut off as soon as possible" Bedell said.

"The kids were a little bit concerned. They didn't know what was going on, but we're back home and everybody's safe. So, that's all that mattered," Clapsadl said.

The family who lives next door to the regulator station say they've lived there for eight years, and never felt unsafe. They say it was just an accident.

Anyone who smells gas should not investigate, but evacuate.

It's best to get out and get to a safe location. It's also advised to walk and not drive. With the source of a leak unknown, starting a car could ignite any gas in the air.

Homeowners should take other precautions around gas lines.

Call 811 before doing any digging at home. Utility companies will come out to mark any hidden dangers that might be underground.

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