Gas line break forces South Hill neighborhood evacuation

SPOKANE, Wash. - Fire crews have evacuated approximately 150 people from neighboring homes and businesses after a construction crew broke a natural gas line near Latawah and 29th Avenue on the South Hill.

Homes, schools and businesses started getting evacuated by firefighters shortly after the line was ruptured after noon Friday. In one case, an eyewitness at Advanced Eyecare at 412 E. 30th said they were given five minutes to evacuate.

To help evacuate a senior care center, two STA buses were brought in to shuttle those that could be moved. People at the care center who could not be evacuated were told to shelter in place.

The break in the natural gas line was caused by a construction crew working on rehabilitating a stretch of roadway along 29th Avenue. Spokane Fire Chief Bobby Williams said a contractor ruptured the 6-inch gas line with a backhoe while working on the sidewalk.

South Hill gas line break

As of 2:30 p.m. officials said that two of the three lines broken were shut down and the one line still not shut down there was only approximately 15-percent output.

Crews have to shut down the third line, then repair all three, then run a check to make sure the repair holds before people are allowed back to their homes and businesses inside the evacuation zone.

Jessie Wuerst with Avista said that their crews were working to find the safest way to shut down that third line without disrupting service to customers. Wuerst said via Twitter there was no ETA on when that third line would be repaired.