Gas line break prompts evacuations, road closures in Fort Collins

Ravyn Cullor

Evacuations started in Fort Collins at the intersection of College Avenue and Horsetooth Road after a construction vehicle struck an 8-inch gas line around 12:32 p.m.

Horsetooth road between Mason and Mitchell closed due to the break, as did College Avenue between Bochman Dr. and Monroe, said Poudre Fire Authority Public Information Officer Chris Wolf. 

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College Avenue reopened at approximately 5:15 p.m., in time for rush hour, according to tweets from Poudre Fire Authority and the City of Fort Collins.

According to Poudre Fire Authority, gas is no longer leaking. Workers have begun the process of moving the piece of construction equipment so they can start the repair on the gas line.

The only businesses evacuated were Chick-fil-a, McCormick Automotive and the strip mall on the North West corner of College and Horsetooth. The timeframe for reopening could be up to two hours, according to a tweet from PFA.

After a construction vehicle struck a gas line, the intersection at Horsetooth Road and College Avenue was shut down. Nearby businesses were evacuated as well. (Natalie Dyer | Collegian)

Xcel Energy spokesperson Mark Stutz said the gas line was punctured during the ongoing construction in the area. Xcel personnel were dispatched by 12:45 p.m. and crews are currently working on gas containment.

Crews have shut off the gas line and are waiting for the gas to bleed out, which could take up to three hours. PFA has asked commuters to plan accordingly.

Residents of the area have been asked to keep their windows closed and to stay indoors, Wolf said.

Wolf said the main safety concern is the possibility of explosions caused by sparks thrown by the equipment which originally hit the line. While the equipment is off, an electrical current is still present in its system.

Stutz said while the 8-inch line is a main distribution line, there has been no loss of service due to seasonal usage patterns detected by Xcel Energy. 

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Stutz said Xcel Energy will be conducting an investigation, primarily looking into whether or not the lines were properly located before construction began.

An earlier dispatch from PFA indicated that there would be a three block closer around the area, however, the closure is much smaller than the originally indicated area.

While a gas line puncture on the main distribution line is rather uncommon, Wolf said that the PFA deals with one or two gas line punctures a month. 

Workers on site said they’ve been there since 12:30 PM and have not been told yet when they may be allowed to leave. There have been no injuries reported at this time.

This is a developing story. Stay with The Collegian for more. 

Collegian reporter Ravyn Cullor can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @RCullor99.