Natural gas leak in Hunt Club forces home evacuations

·2 min read
An underground pipe leaked natural gas Thursday afternoon, according to Ottawa Fire Services. Residents in the surrounding area were asked to keep doors and windows closed, and follow directions from first responders.  (Scott Stilborn/OFS - image credit)
An underground pipe leaked natural gas Thursday afternoon, according to Ottawa Fire Services. Residents in the surrounding area were asked to keep doors and windows closed, and follow directions from first responders. (Scott Stilborn/OFS - image credit)

A large underground gas line broke in Ottawa's Hunt Club neighbourhood Thursday afternoon, forcing some residents to evacuate their homes and leaving thousands without power.

At about 2:30 p.m., firefighters confirmed a natural gas leak at the intersection of Uplands Drive and Paul Anka Drive, Ottawa Fire Services (OFS) said in a news release.

The leak caused the roadway to "heave up" in the area and blow dust into the air, giving it a "fine mist" appearance, said spokesperson Carson Tharris.

Around 50 homes downwind of the leak were evacuated and gas was shut off to approximately 85 customers in the area, he said.

Firefighters also went door-to-door to ensure residents had their windows and doors closed and used air monitoring equipment to make sure the homes were safe.

The service said in a tweet at about 12:50 a.m. the situation was stable and air quality safe for people to return.

Hydro Ottawa said in an email that more than 2,000 customers were affected by a forced power outage, which was done for safety reasons due to the leak. Power was restored overnight.

The intersection and surrounding area remains closed Friday morning.

Unique challenges with this leak

Tharris said this leak was especially challenging because it wasn't contained within a hole. Instead, the broken pipe was still buried underground and crews had to dig a hole to access the pipe, he said.

There is also an underground hydro vault in the area.

"Gas and electricity aren't a good mix, so that's why hydro shut off the electricity to that area as a precaution," he said.

"Gas is slightly heavier than air, so it would fill in those underground areas, and we wouldn't want [the gas] to be ignited underneath our roadways."

Ottawa Fire Services says what may look like mist is dust particles being forced up from the area.
Ottawa Fire Services says what may look like mist is dust particles being forced up from the area.(Hugo Belanger/CBC)

The fire department's hazardous materials team is working with Enbridge Gas and Hydro Ottawa to repair the pipe.

There is still no information as to what caused the leak, but Tharris said there was construction happening in the general area.

Enbridge is sending service crews to the homes where gas was cut off Friday to relight people's pilot light, he said.

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