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Major gas leak closes highway

A natural gas leak occurred Wednesday, April 13, 2016 along the SD 17 highway project. One of the subcontractors working on the SD 17 project was removing topsoil within the SDDOT right of way. While removing the topsoil, the subcontractor hit a four inch gas main. The subcontractor had a one call ticket issued for the project area. The area for the gas main was believed to be marked, but was at a shallower depth than anticipated.

According to MidAmerican Energy, the gas leak was reported at 10:55 a.m. that morning near 4th Street and Hwy. 17. MidAmerican crews arrived on scene and shut off gas. It was reported that 25 customers were without service as a result. Power was restored in about six and one half hours.

The Lennox and Worthing Fire Departments responded to the call. Emergency personnel took every precaution to make sure there wasn’t an explosion. A text alert was sent out closing the area.

The residents of Sunrise Manor, located near the gas leak, were evacuated and brought to First English Lutheran Church by bus, as no vehicles were allowed to start in the area.

Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Harold Timmerman said, “We thought it would be good to get those folks out of there, even though there wasn’t an air quality issue; if there were any type of ignition it would have been an explosion.”

Timmerman said they tried to keep Fourth to Second Street on lockdown. Timmerman said the fire departments were prepared to protect the structures should that have been required.

Mike Heiberger,of the South Dakota Department of Transportation would like to thank the Lennox Volunteer Fire Department, Lincoln County Emergency Management Team, and MidAmerican Energy personnel for the fast response and positive outcome for a potentially dangerous situation.

He said, the SDDOT would also like to apologize for the inconveniences encountered by the people of Lennox as well as thank them for their patience when the gas leak was encountered.

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