Residents evacuated, road closed after truck runs over gas meter

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 18, 2003

[8/16/03]A half-mile road off U.S. 61 North was closed and residents were evacuated for almost two hours Friday after a tree-trimming truck struck a gas meter.

Residents of five to eight homes on Wells Road were evacuated after a truck that was being used to prune trees from nearby power lines struck the meter, exposing and rupturing a gas line, said Vicksburg Fire Department Capt. James Montgomery, who was among emergency workers who responded.

“We didn’t want to take any chances,” Montgomery said of the decision to evacuate, which he said he walked door-to-door to relay. Residents were allowed to return to their homes more than an hour and a half later, after a crew from Mississippi Valley Gas, which owns the line, had arrived from Jackson and capped the leak, he added.

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No injuries were reported.

Gas service was lost to two homes on the road, and they were expected to have service restored to them by 9 p.m., Mississippi Valley Gas vice president of operations John McDill said.

Vicksburg Gas Department employees could not find the shut-off valve on the gas line and were forced to wait for the Mississippi Valley crew, said Vicksburg Gas Department employee Adam Walker.

Most of the residents were thought to be at work during the leak, according to Officer Davon Grey. One resident refused to leave his home, but his wife was able to convince him to leave the area.

Stanley Smith of DeViney Construction called 911 at 1:05 p.m.

“The driver didn’t hear the wheel hit. We had to back him down the highway and I called 911,” Smith said.

The driver “was sitting high in the air,” Montgomery said. “He just didn’t see” the meter.

Natural gas is used mainly for heating and cooking. It is flammable, but only in concentrated amounts.

Vicksburg Fire Department Deputy Chief Mark Ettinger said the gas will not cause any health problems.

The rupture occurred on the section of Wells Road that connects Gowall Road with U.S. 61, between Bowie Road and Redwood.