Gas line break forces Ironbridge evacuation
August 21, 2006
Hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes and businesses Monday morning when a 12-inch natural gas pipeline ruptured at the Ironbridge Golf Course subdivision. The pipeline, located about five miles south of Glenwood Springs near County Road 109, was breached by construction equipment at about 10 a.m. The name of the company that owned the equipment was not available.There were no fires or injuries, said Doug Davis, spokesman for the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District.The sound of the gas leak “was like a jet engine,” said Linda Drake, who was in her art studio on the east side of the Roaring Fork River. “The noise was just deafening.”Drake said she saw a column of dust hundreds of feet in the air from the escaping gas. Gas continued to leak out of the pipe until 2 p.m. when Kinder Morgan Inc., which owns the line, shut off the gas. The gas line runs between Rifle and Avon and serves the nearby Spring Valley area and Avon in Eagle County.Service to customers was not affected by the break.”Our crews have worked very diligently to ensure there were no service interruptions,” said Kinder Morgan spokeswoman Natalie Shelbourn.County Roads 154 and 109 were closed Monday morning to traffic, and between 50 and 200 homes and businesses were evacuated from the Ironbridge subdivision, as well as on the east side of the river along County Road 154.An evacuation center was established at Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale. The evacuation order was lifted and County Roads 154 and 109 reopened at about 2 p.m.Drake got the word to leave her studio about 11:30 a.m. She packed up her birds and dog and headed back home to Carbondale, she said.Leonard Langston watched the situation from his home south of Highway 82 near the Colorado Mountain College turnoff. He, too, said the noise was extremely loud.”It was like a jet engine. I stepped outside and saw a plume of dust in the air and I thought, I know what this is,” he said. He said he saw two “scrapers [working]. It looked to me like one hit a gas line on Ironbridge [subdivision] between the lodge and the river,” he said.The smell of gas was pervasive for several hours after the line was breached. Langston said friends who have a business near the Rosebud Cemetery in Glenwood Springs told him they could smell a strong odor of gas.Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department and Colorado State Patrol responded to the scene of the break.Shelbourn said repairs to the gas line were expected to be completed Monday evening.