On Thursday April 30 at approximately 3:50 in the afternoon the Seabird Island Fire Department responded to a report of a natural gas leak in the 3000 block of Chowat Rd. Fire crews responded with 2 trucks and were on scene within minutes. When the Fire crews arrived, it was found that a construction crew had hit the natural gas main service line while digging holes to install the new fiber optics cable. “Fire crews established a safe perimeter around the affected area and shut off any potential sources of ignition,” said Fire Chief Gerald Basten. “The area where the incident occurred was very open and didn’t present any immediate risk to the homes in the area.”
There was a slight wind from the south which also helped in diluting and dispersing the leaking gas. Gerald also stated that because the incident was fairly small in size and because the location of the incident was far enough away from any homes, evacuations were not required. Had the incident been in an area closer to populated buildings such as the band administration office, schools, or private homes, increased emergency measures such as “shelter in place”, or even evacuations would have been considered. “Shelter in place is a very quick and effective way of staying safe during emergencies where the air quality is compromised,” said the Fire Chief. Evacuations take a lot of people and time to complete, and are only done if absolutely necessary.
Emergency response crews from Fortis BC were called and were on scene within the hour to isolate the leak and repair the broken section of pipe. The incident was declared under control in just over an hour, and turned over to the Fortis crew to repair the line. Fortis BC Service Technicians from went door to door on Chowat Rd to check and ensure that all gas appliances and pilot lights that may have gone out due to the line break were relit and the homes were clear of any gas fumes.
If emergency crews feel there is a danger due to gas pilot lights in an area, they themselves will turn off the gas supply at the meter, and restore service when it is safe to do so. The public will never be asked to enter a danger area, emergency crews will look after these tasks.