A construction crew working on retrofitting the Beatrice Burger King struck a gas line on Monday night, causing evacuations.
At 5:07 p.m. on Monday, Beatrice emergency crews responded to the scene after a gas line was ruptured.
Beatrice Fire and Rescue Chief Brian Daake said it appears construction workers were using an auger drill when they hit the line.
“You could hear the gas leak from a significant distance away,” Daake said.
The smell and sound of leaking natural gas filled the surrounding air and employees of Pinnacle Bank and the crew working on the temporarily closed Burger King were evacuated as a precautionary measure, said Beatrice Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Jake Carrel.
Natural gas is odorless, but the chemical mercaptan—which smells like rotten eggs—is added to it to make gas leaks more noticeable.
There were no injuries or fires and most traffic along Sixth Street was uninterrupted as crews from Black Hills Energy worked to stop the leak, Carell said.
“They had to locate where the line was at and then go into where the gas line is and then shut it off from there,” Daake said. “From their aspect, I don't know if they had a special shutoff valve. I do know they have devices where they can shut the lines off remotely from wherever.”
The leak was stopped just after 7 p.m.
Gas leaks aren’t a common occurrence, Daake said, but they do happen periodically. Natural gas is flammable, but when it’s outside, Daake said, the risks of it combusting are a lot lower than they are if the leak is inside a structure. The risk can vary based on weather conditions, wind conditions and location, he said.
“There's still a risk, but not as high of a risk as if you have a natural gas leak inside, where it can pool,” Daake said. “Then, it just needs to have that right combination of air, flammable gas and then an ignition source.”