Major gas leak leads to evacuations

RALEIGH Firefighters, police, paramedics, and hazardous materials crews were dispatched to the area of Wilmington Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard just after 9 a.m. Saturday.

Arriving emergency crews were met with a very strong odor of natural gas, which prompted immediate evacuations of all homes in the affected area.

Residents in some homes just outside the affected area were told to close their doors and windows, and shelter in place.

Firefighters spent about an hour and a half testing the air in various manholes and sewer lines, with some reading 100% natural gas.

PSNC gas crews were immediately dispatched to the scene, and began attempting to repair a major natural gas line which had been ruptured. A loud hiss could be heard throughout the area as gas escaped.

Officials tell ABC 11 Eyewitness News a sewer cleaning crew accidentally ruptured the line.

Meanwhile, residents who were evacuated were given the option of making their way to the Raleigh Convention Center, which was designated a temporary evacuation shelter.

A number of CAT buses were brought in to help get people out of the area who did not have any other way of leaving. Those being evacuated included the elderly and disabled.

Crews began getting the upper-hand on the gas line about two hours into the incident, containing it at 11:13 a.m., but many major area streets remained closed as of that time.

They included Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in both directions between Person Street and Wilmington Street, Wilmington in both directions at Martin Luther King, Blount in both directions at Martin Luther King, and a number of neighborhood streets in the area as well.

Both city and state hazardous materials crews were working in the area.

There are no reports of injuries at this time.

Eyewitness News has had a crew at the scene since the incident was first reported. More details will be forthcoming on Eyewitness News at 6 p.m.

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