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South Surrey gas leak forces evacuation

Surrey Firefighters and RCMP members are on scene of large gas leak near 160 street and 24 ave in South Surrey - EVAN SEAL / THE LEADER
Surrey Firefighters and RCMP members are on scene of large gas leak near 160 street and 24 ave in South Surrey
— image credit: EVAN SEAL / THE LEADER

Dozens of businesses were evacuated in South Surrey after a natural gas line was severed early Monday afternoon.

City of Surrey crews were working in the area of 24 Avenue and 160 Street when they cut though a high-pressure FortisBC gas line.

Vincent Lalonde, Surrey's General Manager of Engineering, said he was investigating how and why the pipe was severed.

"We always use (BC) One Call. Right now we're interviewing the crews to make sure exactly what happened," Lalonde said, adding the city was working at capping off a water main at the southeast corner of 24 Avenue and 160 Street when it happened.

Witnesses reported hearing a loud, prolonged noise prior to being evacuated.

Outside, others said the leak from the four-inch gas pipe sounded like a jet engine, and fire crews who got closer said it was deafening.

The gas discharging from the pipe was extremely flammable, according to Surrey RCMP Sgt. Drew Grainger.

"This is about as big as it gets," Grainger said. "The potential for danger is obviously huge."

He said that if it detonated, the results would be catastrophic.

Veronica Moretti, who works at Turner Geox in the mall, said the area was consumed with a foul odour.

"The smell of gas was way, way, way too much," Moretti said. "We were all running around `What's happening? What's happening?' "

Repair teams from Fortis arrived on scene at about 2:15 p.m. and the gas was shut off within an hour.

Road closures were extensive and it wasn't until about 5 p.m. that some lanes of 24 Avenue were re-opened and traffic began moving through the area.

However, the power remained out and and businesses in the areas were still closed as of 5:30 p.m.

- with files from Peace Arch News

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