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Residents temporarily evacuated

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County > Car hits a residence on Rim Road, rupturing a gas line

By Tris DeRoma

Residents were temporarily evacuated from their homes Thursday night after a car struck a house at 98 Rim Road and ruptured a gas line.
Workers with the county’s Department of Public Utilities were on the scene by 5 p.m. and eventually turned the gas off at 5:15 p.m. Officials, however, said there was a leak underground and they eventually fixed it by 6:30 p.m.
Los Alamos County Spokesperson Julie Habiger issued a statement, saying residents were allowed to go back into their homes, as the leak has been found and repaired.
“The homeowner at 98 Rim Road will likely not be able to occupy his home this evening until damage assessment can be done on the house,” she said.
The evacuation was conducted by Los Alamos fire and police officials.
Initially, the car damaged the gas valve and crews were having trouble turning the gas off.
“We got a call around 5 p.m. of a report of a car running into a gas meter,” DPU spokeswoman Allison Majure said. “We dispatched a crew and they were able to turn off the valve but there was a leak underground and they were trying to find that leak.”
Emergency officials and residents, meanwhile, were out on the street watching what was happening.
“Police and fire, per Department of Transportation regulations, were on the scene and it was a standard response,” Majure said. “It looked like it was a big deal but it was just a standard response. We were not in an evacuation process. We were just trying to keep people away.
“Crews isolated where the leak was, which is what the guys were paid to do.”
The county, meanwhile, released an earlier statement about the situation at about 6 p.m. Thursday.
“LAPD and LAFD crews have evacuated a cul de sac on Rim Road in Los Alamos after a car collided into a house located at 98 Rim Road shortly before 5 p.m. today.
“The collision was minor with little damage to the house, but the vehicle ruptured a gas line connected to the house and evacuation was necessary as a precautionary measure. DPU crews were dispatched to the scene of the accident shortly after the 911 call and are currently working to shut off the gas line.
“The female driver of the car was not injured. No injuries were reported inside the home, which was unoccupied. Police officers are securing the scene to do a complete investigation. The cause of the crash is unknown. Motorists are asked to avoid the area at this time. Residents are expected to be able to return to their homes shortly after DPU completes its work,” the statement said.
Ten residents in about four homes were told leave their homes as crews worked on plugging the leak. Most of them gathered at a safe distance from the scene, trying to get updates from emergency and fire officials who were also on the scene. Though the residents seemed relaxed and things seemed to be under control, the incident did put a damper on some of their evening plans.
One couple said they were about to go to a company picnic when they were suddenly blocked in by fire and emergency vehicles rushing to the scene. They had to leave the food they were supplying to the entire picnic in their car behind.
“We were just two minutes away from leaving when they all showed up,” said Ryan Smeltzer.
About a half an hour into the incident, LAFD Deputy Chief Justin Grider and Phil Taylor, emergency management service coordinator for the county, held an impromptu press conference on the street to address residents’ concerns.
The displaced residents were told about what happened and the underground gas leak, and how long it may take for emergency crews to fix it. The residents seemed fairly nonchalant.
Although there was talk of putting residents up in hotels for the night, it turns out they didn’t have to wait long.
 

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