Ruptured gas line leads to evacuated homes, businesses

Contractors replacing the sidewalk at the corner of Washington and Lafayette streets in St. Marys struck a gas line, causing it to rupture Tuesday morning. As a precaution, the fire department evacuated between 10 and 20 residents from Lafayette and Madison streets, as well as businesses in the vicinity, including Nicklas Insurance and County National Bank. The Elks Club was empty at the time. Crystal Fire Department Fire Chief Bill Kraus said the call was received at 10:55 a.m. Tom Bauer of CFD said due to the potential danger involved, the firemen took the necessary precautions. Firemen aerated certain commercial and residential properties using industrial fans to be sure there would be "no further issues and that the situation was safe." John Mulcahy of Nicklas Insurance Agency said the leak occurred directly by the building housing the business. He said the office was overcome with fumes and the fire department had to run fans to ventilate the building. The fire department also conducted tests with portable gas meters to determine the "explosive limit" of the air, checking for high concentrations of natural gas inside of structures. Bauer said the readings did not indicate any further danger. Residents were allowed to return to their homes by 12:30 p.m.