Natural Gas Fire on Cummings Street – April 9, 2011

At 16:59, following a violent spring storm with high winds, Abingdon Fire was alerted to a fire in the 300 block of Cummings Street. When units arrived, there was a power line down across a driveway with a fire burning at the point the lines fell as result of a tree that had fallen on the power lines. A hose line was pulled from Engine 204 and as firefighters attempted to extinguish the flame, it was discovered this was a natural gas leak that had been ignited by the fallen power line. Fire Command requested that Atmos Energy, the local natural gas distributer, respond to the scene. When they arrived, they advised that we needed to let the fire burn to avoid a buildup of gas in another area. This leak was also causing issues with the adjoining shopping complex. The stores were already without power due to the storm. Abingdon Fire personnel used gas meters to check the levels at the different stores in the shopping complex. Reading on the meters were at an unsafe level that the decision was made to evacuate the stores. Atmos Energy brought in a backhoe to dig a hole near Cummings Street to cut off the gas flow. After this was done and the remaining gas in the pipeline was allowed to dissipate, the fire was extinguished. Engine 204, Engine 201, Tanker 202, Command 209 and Command 210 responded to the call, along with units of the Washington County Life Saving Crew, Abingdon Police, and Washington County Service Authority. The call lasted about 6 hours before the final fire unit was back in the Station.