FOUNTAIN – A serious gas leak on Saturday in Fountain forced evacuations in a residential area spanning two blocks.
Tom Wentzell lives in a home along Fountain Mesa Road – one of more nearly 300 forced to evacuate.
“[I] got the notification by phone from the El Paso County saying, ‘evacuate.’ So, of course, the wife and I grabbed the dog and moved out,” he said.
Fountain Police say it happened when a truck lost control, hit the gas line and ruptured it.
“It’s a permanent line is what they call it,” Lieutenant Mark Cristiani, a spokesperson with Fountain Police Department.
“It’s steel and it’s a large amount of gas flowing out into the air.”
Crews had to work meticulously to remove the truck before shutting off the gas.
In the meantime, they needed the area cleared so shortly before 2 p.m. the evacuations began.
“We had to evacuate the neighbors and get them out of here so that anything didn’t spark up,” Cristiani added.
Wentzell says it all happened suddenly, and within 10 minutes of getting the evacuation notice, he was out.
“Surprised, more than anything!” he recalled.
“Because I certainly didn’t smell anything or hear anything.”
He’s been in the neighborhood since 1977 and says he’s “never had any problems like that before.”
By 4 p.m., everyone was allowed to come back.
“Killed a couple of hours!” Wentzell joked.
Though, crews with Black Hills Energy continued repairs on the steel gas line for more than three hours afterward.
Police say the truck was the only one involved in that traffic accident and the driver didn’t suffer any injuries.
The investigation is still ongoing so it’s not clear if the driver will be cited.