January 9, 2017 - 10:35amUpdated: January 10, 2017 - 6:34am
Chris Vandenbreekel/650 CKOM
Firefighters at the scene of a natural gas leak on 30th Street West between avenues C and D on Jan. 9, 2017.
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People were forced to leave their homes after a natural gas leak in a Saskatoon neighbourhood Monday morning.
Emergency crews were called around 10:13 a.m. after a private contractor hit a 10-inch-wide gas line – causing a rupture – along 30th Street West between avenues C and D.
Most people were told to stay inside their homes until further notice – while residents in homes closer to the leak were forced to leave.
"We've evacuated approximately half a block to the west, north and south of the gas leak. We're just protecting everyone in place," said Rob Hogan, a spokesman with the Saskatoon Fire Department.
Officials confirmed nine homes were off-limits. Five of these were empty when the evacuation took place, while people in the other four houses were able to go to safe locations of their choice.
Residents in eight of the nine homes were allowed to return shortly after 5 p.m.
The scene is also a block from Caswell Community School, which was put under a shelter in place order until the end of the school day. Parents were notified, and police organized a safe corridor for school buses Monday afternoon.
Traffic restrictions were still in place throughout the afternoon, with police blocking entry to the road.
Several SaskEnergy trucks arrived around 10:45 a.m. and workers began digging into the road on Avenue C to shut off the affected natural gas line.
An afternoon press release said the gas supply was expected to be completely shut off to the damaged pipe by 9 p.m. with "minimal" disruption to area homes and businesses.
Crews needed to thaw the ground around the 11-inch pipe so they could insert a special shut-off valve to isolate the line.
Additionally, Saskatoon’s emergency management organization arrived around 11:15 a.m. to co-ordinate the response with its command bus.
As of just after 11 p.m. Monday, SaskEnergy reported that crews were able to successfully isolate the damaged portion of the pipe and shut off the gas. The utility company reported that gas service was maintained to all homes and businesses in the area.
Repairs were expected to continue through Tuesday morning.