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Latest in string of Sunriver natural gas leaks repaired

By Alicia Inns
Published On: Dec 24 2013 04:28:48 AM CST
Updated On: Sep 11 2013 08:42:08 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Alicia Inns reports from Sunriver, where there have been nearly a dozen natural gas line cuts this year, at least some because the lines were placed too close to the surface.

SUNRIVER, Ore. -

For the second time in a week, nearly a dozen homes were evacuated and roads closed for over two hours in Sunriver Wednesday morning after a natural gas line was accidentally cut during a paving project, officials said.

Police and firefighters were on the scene of the leak, reported around 9:30 a.m. at 14 Goldfinch Lane. Cardinal Landing Lane was closed from Circle 5 to the bridge.

There were more challenges reported in this week's incident, as the cut line was close to a main line. Cascade Natural Gas crews were called in to make repairs.

The repairs took close to two hours after utility crews determined the line was cut too close to the main line and welding was not a safe option.

Eleven homes were evacuated, from 5 through 16 Goldfinch Lane, after a paving crew cut the line.

"When these permits were taken and the companies went out, they had the gas lines located. It was assumed that they were the correct depth, and from what we can tell, they are just too shallow," said George Fox of the Sunriver Fire Department.

Fox said sections of the natural gas line apparently were buried only about a foot below ground when installed years ago, when they are supposed to be placed about two feet underground.

"This is an older area where, we don't know what happened 30-40 years ago when these gas lines were laid in here," he said.

Only four of the 11 evacuated houses have permanent residents.

Neighbors say it's like a having a bad case of deja vu. Being evacuated twice in one week is frustrating a few homeowners. Others are just dealing with it.

"I'm just glad that we have the police and facilities and communication, so that they will contact us and have us leave," said Carolyn Barr, who was evacuated Wednesday. "It's one of those things you cope with, you live with."

There have been nearly a dozen gas leaks in the past year in the resort community from a cable system upgrade and other repairs. Many hope this is the last one.

"We'll go back and we'll discuss what happened here, and how we took care of it," Fox said. "And we'll also talk to the gas company and we'll see if there is something more that we can do."

The earlier incident began around 2:30 p.m. last Wednesday, Sept. 4, when Sunriver's public works department got a call reporting the leak and Sunriver firefighters responded to the 00 block of Goldfinch Lane, said fire department spokesman Jim Bennett.

Fire and police crews went door to door, urging residents to stay inside, and evacuated the 10 homes on Goldfinch Lane and in the immediate area.

Also, portions of the Sunriver bike path and Cardinal Landing/Abbot Drive were closed between Circle 5 and the Deschutes River for a brief period, Bennett said.

Cascade Natural Gas crews got the gas flow shut nearly an hour after it began, and residents soon were able to return home and roads reopened. Bennett said there were no reported injuries.

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