The Omaha Fire Department told Channel 6 News Thursday a worker for the Nebraska Humane Society mowed over an exposed gas valve near 90th and Fort in Omaha. The accident resulted in a gas leak evacuating and closing several businesses, and snarled nearby traffic.
MUD shut off the gas main releasing gas at about 125 pounds per square inch. MUD repaired the valve and declared the area save by 3 p.m. No customers’ gas services were affected and Fort Street reopened by 3 p.m. as well.
The exposed valve released what the fire department said was an extremely large amount of gas. Crews said normally all gas valves should be covered, but erosion may have caused this one to surface.
OFD said the weather saved this situation from becoming even more dangerous. The breeze helped disperse the gas and if it was more humid, an explosion would have been possible. "Yeah, there's a lot of gas coming out of it," said OFD Chief Mike McConnell. "If it was a calm day it could have been a different situation. Heavy humidity would have kept the gas lowered to the ground. If It would have found an ignition source we could have had an explosion."
All traffic lanes of Fort Street were temporarily closed from 90th to Templeton Drive, approximately four blocks east of 90th and Fort.
Two small buildings near the main Nebraska Humane Society were cleared out. A spokesperson for the Human Society told Channel 6 all animals were in safe areas, and only volunteers and dog-walkers were evacuated.