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gas-leak04-2-16.jpgConstruction crews broke a gas main Tuesday, Feb. 13, around 8:25 a.m. on Castle Rock Road in the Village of Oak Creek, closing Hwy. 179 for less than hour.
By Trista Steers
Larson Newspapers
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Construction crews broke a gas main Tuesday, Feb. 13, around 8:25 a.m. on Castle Rock Road in the Village of Oak Creek, closing Hwy. 179 for less than hour.

Arizona Department of Public Safety and Arizona Department of Transportation directed traffic around the break via Verde Valley School Road and Bell Rock Boulevard while Sedona Fire District and UniSource Energy worked on the problem.

?Because of the quick reaction by everyone, the road was only closed for approximately a half-hour,? ADOT construction engineer Pat Cusey said.

The break did not disrupt VOC gas service.

Construction crews broke a 2-inch hole in the top of a 4-inch plastic pipe, according to Jim Duncan, UniSource Energy area manager for the Verde Valley.

Crews were trenching storm drainage ditches for new culverts to be installed as part of the Hwy. 179 Improvement Project when they broke the pipe.

Cusey said UniSource marked the gas line for the contractor and crews were aware of it.

?They were working around it,? Cusey said. ?They knew it was there.?

Crews knew where the pipe was located but not how deep it was buried, Cusey said.

The contractor is responsible for the accident, according to Cusey, and will pay all charges from UniSource.

Duncan said the cost of breaking a line depends on numerous factors, including how much gas is lost, access to the leak and amount of time to repair, among other things. Duncan didn?t have a price for Tuesday?s break at press time.

Some buildings around the break were cleared out by SFD, but Desert Flour Bakery was missed.

Meredith Menerey, a Desert Flour employee, said all of the sudden she heard a hissing noise and looked out the window to see the commotion.

Menerey said the bakery employees stayed in the back half of the shop and watched crews to see what they should do.

?We just kept watching them to see if we should start running,? Menerey said.

If the workers fled, Menerey said that?s when she would have known to get out.

?We were freaked out,? Menerey said. ?You could taste it in your mouth.?

Menerey said she also became alarmed when she saw a motorist who had slipped through the roadblock smoking a cigarette with his window down.

SFD responded first to the call to secure the situation until UniSource arrived.

?Once UniSource got on scene, we just provided some protection,? SFD Captain Tim Lefler said.

SFD sprayed foam around the break to reduce the likelihood of crews producing static electricity while working. Static electricity could cause the gas to ignite.

SFD then offered support to UniSource crews while they squeezed off the pipe on both ends of the break.

?The gas was blowing straight up in the air,? Duncan said. This helped crews because it is lighter than air and therefore rises.

Southwestern winds also helped dissipate the gas, Lefler said.

Duncan said the leak was stopped by 9:25 a.m. and the pipe repaired by 12:15 p.m.

Gas continued to flow to all buildings despite the break because the VOC pipe system is a two-way feed, Duncan said. ?Two-way feed? means pipe and gas flow in both directions.


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