Residents evacuate as gas pipe is repaired

By Nicole Johnson  bio | email

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Power crews dig up two parts of Coming Street in downtown Charleston to fix a leaky gas line. As of 9:30 p.m. Saturday SCE&G crews were still busy at work because they had to dig up two different parts of Coming Street to work on this gas line. It is buried five feet underground.

Six city blocks of downtown Charleston were closed to traffic.

"I usually come up Carolina and Coming to get home, and I couldn't and I came around and I saw the fire truck right there so I was like something was wrong," David Smith said.

SCE&G says something went wrong with one of their gas pipes, springing a leak just before noon. The power company told residents on one block of Coming Street near Sumter Street to evacuate as a safety measure. But they didn't make everyone in the area leave.

"Smells like we should," Smith said.

"It is scaring me. It's getting worse in the house, it really is," Tammie Rose said.

Air quality testers were on scene with devices checking for dangerous fumes.

"Everything is safe. One of the nice things about natural gas is it's only half as light as air so when there is a gas leak, something like that gas dissipates in the atmosphere very quickly," SCE&G spokesman Scott Grigg said.

Crews dug up two areas of the gas line to turn off the gas and repair the part that was leaking. Residents who didn't have to evacuate say they haven't been able to do much, just stuck inside unable to use their gas stoves or leave their homes.

"Streets are blocked. Even if we tried to leave it's blocked and we'd have to hunt someone down and say can you move so we can leave," Smith said.

"People have been calling. Lots of people have been calling but I was just telling my son well if we have to go somewhere I guess I'll just have to get a room and stay at a hotel or something like that," Rose said.

SCE&G says they didn't have to cut off service to anyone because the problem pipe as a feeder pipe that is not directly putting gas into people's homes.

Some people right in that area told Live 5 they didn't feel comfortable turning on their gas stoves or heaters until everything cleared up.

The pipe is four inches around, and residents reported it had ruptured the street. Right now the cause of the pipe leak is under investigation.