Service restored for 200 of 250 A.L. residents without gas

Published 8:51 am Thursday, September 22, 2011

Natural gas service has been restored to more than 200 of the approximately 250 Albert Lea residents who were without service since road contractors hit a gas main around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Alliant Energy spokesman Justin Foss said service for most residents was restored by 7 p.m. Wednesday, although 40 are still without service.

After the gas main was hit, residents of a dozen homes were evacuated on the north side of Front Street and the west side of North Lincoln Avenue; the evacuees were allowed to return to their homes just before 8:40 a.m.

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At that time Wednesday morning, the gas line was capped, but natural gas service — which can affect amenities like hot water and furnaces — had not been restored.

Foss said Alliant Energy crews had to manually shut off service at each affected home’s gas meter, repair everything on the line, restore service at the meters and enter each affected home to re-light pilot lights.

“This is a pretty big hit,” Foss said.

The dead-end street where the gas leak originated had been closed at its intersection with Front Street, as construction is in the works to replace the sanitary sewer.

Workers with Heselton Construction were contracted for the project.

Foss used the incident to remind people — whether homeowner or contractor — to call 811 before they dig.

“Even if you’re digging a few inches in the ground, you don’t always know what’s underground,” he said.

If someone is within two feet of the line, Foss suggests people use a shovel to dig as opposed to a heavy piece of machinery.