Natural gas leak leads to evacuation of Rockford neighborhood - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

UPDATED: Natural gas leak leads to evacuation of Rockford neighborhood

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ROCKFORD (WREX) -

It's all clear, that's what a Nicor Gas crew explained to people returning after a natural gas line breaks in their Rockford neighborhood. Some of those residents were forced out of their homes when the accident happened for their safety.

It all started at 11:30 Thursday morning on the corner of 18th Avenue and 17th Street. Some neighbors, like Roy Wilson, were at work. Wilson says he was surprised to see the scene.

"I came home and couldn't get a parking spot so I had to park like a block away and when I walked around they stopped me and said I couldn't come to my house until they had investigated it and made sure it was safe to go in."

The leak happened right in Roy Wilson's front yard. Waiting a half hour for Nicor Gas workers to take care of the gas leak wasn't ideal, but he knows it was done for his own good.

"It was an inconvenience of course, but if they have problems, they just want to make sure everybody's safe, so I can understand that." -Wilson says.

Thursday's gusty weather conditions actually made this a more mild accident.

"Natural gas can travel, but we had a windy day to keep it from actually piling up in any direction. If it does build up and it gets near a flame there's always a chance for explosion or fire." -says Rockford Fire Department Ed Sobczyk.

According to Lt. Sobczyk, neighbors still had to be cleared out, "Just in case something did happen, we wanted to make sure we were safe."

Lt. Sobczyk says as far as he knows the accident was caused by workers from the Rock River Water Reclamation District, who hit the gas line with a back-hoe during routine maintenance work. He says Nicor Gas workers had to pinch off the gas line on both sides of the rupture in order to stop the leak. Nicor workers on the scene could not comment on the accident, how it happened, or how much natural gas was lost because of the leak. Rock River Water Reclamation District workers could not comment as well, but they did stop work for the day after the rupture was resolved.

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A considerable rupture of a natural gas line has caused a neighborhood to be evacuated.

The rupture occurred at 1912 17th Street around 11:30 a.m. Thursday morning. People within a one block radius were evacuated by officials as a precaution.

Nicor and members of the Rockford Fire Department are still on the scene. We will bring you updates as we receive them.

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