About 100 Columbiana homes left without gas

COLUMBIANA — Around 100 homes were without gas for hours after a contractor working along state Route 14 struck a gas line Wednesday.

Columbia Gas Communications Manager Bill Loomer said the third-party contractor struck a four-inch plastic gas line around noon near the state Routes 7 and 14 intersection, and it disconnected gas to 20 customers in that area.

He said the majority of those affected were located in the Firestone Farms housing development and receive gas through a co-op and not Columbia Gas.

“The meter from that point on the distribution is taken over by a co-op, so we are not responsible for anything up to that co-op,” he explained.

Columbia Gas restored power to its customers by 4 p.m. that day, he said.

Tom Mackall, Firestone Farms president, said the development is part of the All American Energy Gas co-op that is serviced by Utility Technologies International Corporation.

He said there are 120 customers in the co-op in the housing development.

“The good thing is it could have been way worse,” he said of the fact that the gas leak did not ignite. “The gas smell was all over the area, clear over by the clock tower (at the Town Center).”

He said the gas line was struck by the contractor working on the lot along state Route 14 to make way for the new Dairy Queen restaurant.

He added that some residents, and the Prima Health Care Center, were still without gas Thursday morning and that gas to the community center’s swimming pool wasn’t restored until 3 p.m.

“They worked until midnight last night and started again at 9 a.m. this morning. I think everybody’s gas is on now,” he said.

A message left with the service company Thursday evening was not returned.

Mackall said the company had to actually go inside each of the affected homes one at a time and turn all of the appliances off before restoring gas to make sure there were no fire or other safety hazards.

No injuries were reported as as result of the leak, although Mackall said it did cause concern among residents.

Residents were kept informed of the situation through updates from the Firestone Farms Steering Committee, he added.

Traffic was directed away from the leak by the city’s police department on Wednesday.