Lights and Sirens

Broken Gas Line In Sibley Causes Tense Moments, Evacuation

Sibley, Iowa — A broken gas line caused the evacuation of a portion of the city of Sibley on Thursday.

According to Sibley Fire Chief Ken Huls, about 1:50 p.m., the Osceola County Emergency Center received the report of a broken gas line, which coincidentally was very near the Sheriff’s Office.

Huls says the address of the broken pipe was 529 Third Avenue. He tells us that a crew from H & D Underground of Sleepy Eye, Minnesota was putting in a fiber optic line when they hit a gas service line. He says the workers called the gas company, Alliant Energy. Huls tells us it was a “significant break.” He says the workers cleared the area.

Huls tells us when the fire department arrived, there was a significant gas odor. He says Assistant Fire Chief Dan Bechler, who was the incident commander at the scene, decided to evacuate a two-square-block area, including a portion of Old Highway 60 or Second Avenue.

Huls says they escorted the evacuees to Lewis Drug, except for essential personnel and prisoners at the Sheriff’s Office. He says they sealed up, secured the prisoners, and sheltered in place. Those at the Osceola County Courthouse nearby also sheltered in place.

Huls says the plume of gas dissipated as it went south on the wind. The gas crew made repairs, and firefighters were on-scene for about an hour and a half.

Chief Huls reminds people that if they smell an odor of gas in a house or other building, do NOT turn anything on or off or plug in a fan or anything. He says you need to exit the house or building immediately and call the gas company or fire department from a cell phone or a neighbors phone from outside the building where you smelled the gas. He tells us he has personal experience with this — and just the tiniest spark can set off the gas. He says in one case in his experience, the entire house exploded when an electric appliance was turned on.

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