A Friday afternoon gas leak resulted in the shutdown of multiple businesses and the evacuation of several buildings in downtown Columbia.
Fortunately, no injuries were reported.
“Luckily, nothing blew up,” Columbia Fire Chief Mike Roediger said.
Emergency personnel responded about 1:40 p.m. to 207 N. Main Street, after a four-inch Ameren gas line was struck and severed by a crew performing asphalt cutting along Main Street as part of the Main Street Streetscape Phase 2 work.
“Apparently the gas line wasn’t as deep as they thought it was,” Roediger said.
Columbia fire, EMS and police department personnel responded to the scene, evacuating nearby businesses along Main Street. The Dupo, Waterloo, Millstadt, Red Bud and Camp Jackson fire departments assisted with manpower as part of the evacuation process and also by standing by at Columbia’s fire station.
The evacuation area included an 11-block radius of buildings in the vicinity of the gas leak, Roediger said. Columbia City Hall served as an evacuation center for those affected by the incident.
There was also a power outage in the area as Ameren worked to repair the leak.
Affected residents and businesses were alerted via Monroe County Emergency Management Agency Code Red notifications and through emergency personnel going door to door.
It took approximately two hours before the gas was finally shut off, Roediger said, with a strong odor of gas detected in the Schlemmer Building and the sewers
Ameren crews continued repair work on the gas line until about 11 p.m., after which that portion of Main Street was reopened to traffic.