A natural gas leak that prompted the evacuation of a metro neighborhood Monday morning might have been the work of thieves.
It happened in the area of 24th and Hartman. Natural gas was leaking from an empty home on the block and firefighters say this is a growing problem.
Battalion Chief Mike Pritchard said, “Unfortunately, we see a lot of these homes that are vacant, people stealing copper and that type of thing. So, It’s a problem we have to deal with regularly.”
The odor of natural gas was so strong that the entire block had to be evacuated.
Kesha Poindexter was making breakfast when firefighters knocked at her door.
She said, “Man, I just started panicking. I said, ‘Hurry up. Get your stuff. Let’s go.’ That’s all I could think of. I didn’t understand why but someone said something about it could blow up. ‘Let’s get out. Let’s just go.’”
Everyone moved outside of their homes and away from the empty building. For some it was tough to do because they also had to move others outside to safety.
Carolyn Spliter said, “They told me it was a gas leak and we had to get out. I told them I had a handicapped guy in the house so they offered to help me get him out.”
Lawrence Spliter said, “Once I got out of the house I could smell it.”
Work crews from MUD were able to shut off the gas and after it cleared, those evacuated were able to go back to their homes. They’d spent approximately 30 minutes on the street.
The incident is under investigation.