Natural gas leak forces evacuation of homes in east Saint John

Emergency crews respond to a natural gas leak on Ian St., in the Champlain Heights area of Saint John, on May 27, 2020. Tim Roszell/Global News

Several homes in east Saint John were evacuated early Wednesday afternoon after some construction work in the area led to a natural gas leak.

Saint John Fire crews responded to a report of a natural gas leak at 13 Ian Street in Champlain Heights.

Platoon Chief Barry Oickle said the first truck on scene confirmed the leak. The natural gas provider, Liberty Utilities, was contacted and also responded to the scene. There was construction work underway in the area.

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“What we had was a half-inch line that broke during the construction phase,” Oickle said.

About 30-32 people were evacuated from their homes on Ian Street, Oickle said. Ian Street was blocked to all traffic. Saint John Police also blocked part of Champlain Drive near Grandview Avenue.

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“(Crews) started to do an evacuation downwind on Ian (Street), all the way from Champlain Drive to Sherwood Street, as a precaution, just to make sure we had the residents accounted for.”

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Oickle said Saint John Transit buses were brought in to bring residents to an emergency relief centre at New Brunswick Community College. Ultimately, it wasn’t necessary.

“Once Liberty Gas got on scene, they did a reconnaissance with our people, confirmed there was no readings of natural gas in the area, and everything had worked properly,” Oickle said, adding residents were allowed back into their homes after a short period of time.

“As a precaution, we did make sure we had enough surgical masks so we could have people self-isolate on the buses,” Oickle said. “We brought about 150 masks.”

There were no injuries. Oickle said response crews benefited from a slight breeze, which helped dissipate the gas quickly.

The repair work was expected to take about two hours.


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