Residents in Tillsonburg evacuated after gas line severed
After a severed gas line in London caused an explosion, destroyed homes and forced the evacuation of 100 homes, a neighbourhood in Tillsonburg also had to be evacuated due to a damaged gas line early Sunday.
OPP say just after 3 a.m., a lightning strike on Kara Lane severed a gas line, releasing a large quantity of natural gas into homes and into the underground sewer lines.
Police say the high concentration of gas meant they had to evacuate about 60 homes for public safety.
"It sounded like a bomb going off really. It was the loudest lightning crack crack I've ever heard in my life," said Luke Gingrich, who awoke to the front lawn of his Kara Lane home on fire about 2:30 a.m.
"I saw the mulch was burning and it seemed like it was going to go out, but it just kept burning and burning.”
As he was noticing the smell of gas, the Tillsonburg Fire Department arrived on scene.
They put out the fire and determined that lightning had struck a tree and ruptured a section of the gas line.
“We errored on the side of caution and evacuated a large area,” says Tillsonburg Deputy Fire Chief Tony Hietkamp.
“Union Gas also shut off gas to more than 100 homes in the neighbourhood.”
Just days after a gas leak caused a major explosion in London, first responders immediately told alarmed residents to vacate their homes.
Austin Ashford recounted what he was thinking. “I’ve gotta get outta here… real quick.”
Cindy Vanexem says a police officer came to her door which was worrisome.
“She said we had to evacuate because of a gas leak and being half asleep it was nerve wracking.”
She was taken in by her brother at 4 a.m., but those who didn't have a place to go were taken to the community centre, or fire hall.
Eight hours after this rare occurrence, Union Gas began re-lighting all the homes.
“This is a unique event, but our crews are trained for so many things and they react very efficiently with public safety as main priority,” said Union Gas supervisor Jeremy Reimer.
Service to all but two of the houses has been restored. Those two will have to wait until Monday as Union Gas fixes the damaged section of the pipe.