Buildings evacuated after gas leak |

Buildings evacuated after gas leak

Steve Benson

Nothing clears out a room faster than bad gas, especially if it may cause a fiery explosion.

Close to 50 occupants of buildings in the 500 block of Hyman and Hopkins avenues were evacuated around 2 p.m. Tuesday after a construction crew punctured an old gas line submerged in the alley.

Emergency crews immediately began evacuating the buildings after receiving the call.

Charlie Martin, community safety supervisor at the Aspen Police Department, said the line was probably 15 years old and was not properly closed by former crews. Workers from Kinder Morgan, which is replacing gas lines throughout downtown Aspen, hit the line, causing gas to fill the air and surrounding buildings.

“They didn’t expect this,” Martin said. “They know what they’re doing.”

Sabrina Hall, a nurse at Aspen Valley Pediatrics, located in the Patio Building on the corner of Hopkins Avenue and Spring Street, said she felt ill but was not immediately aware of a gas leak.

“When I walked up the stairs I was feeling a little nauseous,” Hall said. “Then shortly after a guy came in and told me there was a gas leak and we needed to evacuate.”

According to Brian Nichols, a captain with the Aspen Fire Department, the gas was so potent that it didn’t present much of a danger at the source of the leak itself.

“It was coming out of the line so quickly and under such pressure that it was too rich to be an issue right at the leak,” he said.

But Nichols said the gas that found its way into the buildings could have been dangerous. The flipping of a light switch could have triggered an explosion, he added.

Occupants waited outside for close to an hour before emergency crews allowed them to re-enter the buildings.

“Public safety is number one,” Martin said. “Anytime there’s a gas break downtown it’s a big concern.”

Steve Benson’s e-mail address is

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