Minturn gas line rupture repaired, but some still without gas service
MINTURN — A construction crew at about noon Wednesday ruptured a gas line in the 800 block of Minturn’s Main Street. The incident closed both directions of U.S. Highway 24 for about two hours. The highway was re-opened just after 2:15 p.m., but some customers may be without natural gas service until Thursday afternoon.
Tracy LeClair, public information officer for the Eagle River Fire Protection District, said construction workers ruptured a two-inch residential gas line. LeClair said the crew did “everything right” in trying to learn the location of utility lines in the area.
LeClair said that “given the age” of Minturn, it’s not surprising that some underground utilities aren’t in the exact locations first reported to the town.
Crews from the fire district and Xcel Energy were quickly on scene, and Highway 24 was closed in both directions. Xcel also cut electric power to the area in an effort to lessen the chance of sparks igniting the gas.
LeClair said an Xcel representative was actually on scene before fire crews.
“I don’t know where he was, but he beat us there,” LeClair said.
LeClair said firefighters shut down traffic and turned off electricity after taking readings of the amount of gas in the air. Those readings showed a significant chance that a stray spark might ignite that gas.
At about 1:15 p.m., LeClair said the gas line had been crimped and the leak stopped. Excel crews then started working to repair the line.
Electric power was quickly restored. But roughly 100 homes may be without gas service until Thursday afternoon.
Xcel spokesman Mark Stutz said restoring gas service was complicated by water in the hole where the line was ruptured. Xcel crews have to purge all the water from the lines, Stutz said. After that, crews need to make sure there are no air bubbles in the line.
Once those tests are complete, crews will go house to house to re-light pilot lights for water heaters, furnaces and cooking stoves.
Stutz said crews will work through the afternoon and into the evening. He asked residents who don’t mind being awakened in the late night or early morning hours to leave their front porch lights on to alert crews.
But, he added, crews might not work through the night, and might pick up the work of re-lighting pilot lights on Thursday.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at email@example.com or 970-748-2930.