Car hits gas line, causes evacuation of mobile homes
A car struck a gas line Thursday night at Smuggler Mobile Home Park, releasing a cloud of natural gas and forcing the evacuation of the neighborhood, police said.
Residents of the area received Pitkin Alerts by phone and text just after 8 p.m. to evacuate the trailer park “as quickly and safely as possible” and stay 300 feet away “in all directions.”
Asked what happened, Aspen police Lt. Chip Seamans said a mother and daughter were unloading groceries and the 16-year-old daughter was asked to move the car.
“I’m not sure what happened after that,” Seamans said.
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Aspen Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn said he heard on the police scanner that a car hit a gas line. The incident occurred in the 100 block of Maple Lane, Seamans said.
Mobile home park resident Solveit Warming was waiting outside at about 8:20 p.m. with her shih tzu, Charlie, at the intersection of Maple Lane and Gibson Avenue as the lights of numerous emergency vehicles lit up her neighborhood. She said that even before she received the alert phone call telling her to evacuate, she heard the whining and hissing of the natural gas escaping and wondered what it was.
“I thought a water main broke,” she said.
A reporter walking around the area Thursday night could hear the whine Warming described and smell the gas, which hung thickly in the air. Roaring Fork Transportation Authority buses were brought into the area to keep people warm, though few residents were in the buses or on the streets on the west side of the mobile home park.
A Source Energy truck arrived at the scene at 8:30 p.m., and the technician could be seen urgently running around his truck soon after. At 8:42 p.m., officers told residents they could return to their homes.
The technician, who declined to comment to a reporter, told a park resident that all homes would have heat except the one at the site of the gas-line break.
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Local officials don’t think Aspen and Pitkin County residents are taking social distancing and isolation rules seriously enough, and reiterated Monday their importance in controlling the spread of the coronavirus.