The Airdrie Fire Department (AFD) is reminding residents of the importance of locating gas lines and other utilities prior to beginning any excavation work after a contractor struck and damaged a natural gas line in Hillcrest Nov. 9.
According to Deputy Fire Chief Garth Rabel, crews responded to a section of the southwest neighbourhood still under construction in the 100 block of Hillcrest Square at approximately 12:11 p.m
“It was a ruptured gas line due to a contractor,” he said. “There’s lots of construction going on in our community right now in all quadrants. It’s just a very busy, on-going, building out piece in the community of Hillcrest.”
Rabel said firefighters arriving on site were able to determine a contractor digging postholes had struck the main natural gas distribution line. He said he hopes the key message of calling or clicking online before you dig will finally get across to people, both homeowners and construction crews.
“This is the fourth incident this year,” he said. “These are preventable incidences that we need to address.”
Firefighters quickly took control of the situation to ensure it didn’t turn into a bigger incident.
“We definitely evacuated the workers in the immediate area,” Rabel said. “The weather was playing in our favour so there was no need to evacuate any residents – it was isolated and the wind supported us in that. They cordoned off the area to any pedestrian or vehicular traffic.”
According to Rabel, an emergency response crew from ATCO Gas was also called to the scene and worked to turn off the flow of the natural gas from the damaged line. Firefighters worked alongside the ATCO emergency response team and the situation was brought under control after approximately two hours, according to Rabel.
“It’s going to be ATCO’s investigation, of course. It’s their infrastructure – we don’t get into that kind of follow-up,” he said.
After taking air quality readings and ensuring it was safe, construction workers were allowed back onto the site. Rabel said there were no injuries to report.
The call required the response of three pieces of apparatus and 12 firefighters.
To avoid hitting and damaging underground utilities, Rabel said residents should contact Alberta One-Call at 1-800-242-3447 or visit albertaonecall.com to have underground utilities located and marked.