Gas leak empties Oak Bay block

St. Michaels junior school children among those evacuated

  • Feb. 5, 2012 4:00 p.m.

A ruptured natural gas line caused some excitement Thursday for a group of Oak Bay residents and schoolchildren. Oak Bay firefighters are thankful that’s all it caused.

A resident in the 700-block of Victoria Ave. was having their drains cleaned when a worker nicked the underground line with an auger, causing gas to leak into the house and the storm sewer system along the street.

According to Fire Chief Gerry Adam, homes along Victoria Avenue between Smythe Street and Central Avenue, as well as some on adjacent Falkland Avenue, were evacuated while fire crews and emergency responders from Fortis B.C. and B.C. Hydro waited for the gas to clear.

The area includes St. Michaels University School’s junior campus. Students there were evacuated and the school was closed for the day just before noon.

Adam said the situation was handled correctly by all parties.

“It was all very safe and secure. … Residents were asked to leave, and they did so willingly,” he said.

Responders remained on scene for most of the day.

“It’s a slow process, to allow (the gas) to vent naturally,” Adam said. In total, his crew was on scene for almost seven hours. Most residents, save for the owner of the home where the leak originated, were permitted to return inside after being on the street for about an hour and a half.

Adam said leaks such as this aren’t uncommon and that most cases end up being resolved in the same way. Though no one was hurt, he added that the incident serves as a reminder of what to do in the event of a leak.

“If you smell natural gas, get out of the premises, turn any switches off and leave the door open,” he said.

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