Gas leak causes disruption along Highway 82, briefly closes Aspen airport |

Gas leak causes disruption along Highway 82, briefly closes Aspen airport

By Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times

Highway 82 and the Aspen airport were shut down for about an hour Tuesday morning after a large natural gas leak occurred near the Intercept Lot, sources said.

Emergency dispatchers received a call at 6:07 a.m. about the gas leak, which was coming from one of two small Black Hills Energy buildings located about 200 yards east of the Intercept Lot at Highway 82 and Brush Creek Road, said Deputy Alex Burchetta, spokesman for the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.

He said he arrived on scene not long after and could see and hear the gas shooting straight up into the air through a relief pipe at the top of one of the buildings.

“It was like standing 10 feet away from a jet engine,” Burchetta said.

The leak prompted deputies to immediately close westbound Highway 82 about 6:15 a.m. because of its proximity to the leak, he said. Deputies and Aspen Fire Department personnel also notified officials at the airport about 6:35 a.m., which shut down air operations until about 7:22 a.m., Burchetta said.

Rick Balentine, Aspen fire chief, said the large gas plume was directly in the flight path.

“We don’t close the airport lightly,” Balentine said.

Eastbound Highway 82 also was later shut down, Burchetta said. Traffic was diverted to side roads until technicians from Black Hills Energy were able to shut down the leak about 7:20 a.m., he said.

Balentine said it appears that a high pressure gas surge came through the line and blew out the relief valves.