OGDEN -- A small track hoe punctured a gas line Monday morning at a downtown construction site while digging a hole for the installation of a new light post.
"You could see the whoosh just shooting up," neighbor Serena Gomez said, describing the stream of natural gas gushing out of the hole.
Ogden Fire Department crews received the call around 8 a.m. and arrived shortly after at the site next to a church at 2604 Jefferson Ave., where an apartment triplex is under construction.
"My screen shows it has been flowing at least 20 minutes before then," said Ogden Fire Batallion Chief Corey Barton.
When when his crews arrived, he said, they set up air-monitoring stations and evacuated most of the homes on the west side of Jefferson Avenue between 26th and 27th streets.
Most times, gas from a leak will dissipate in the air, but depending on the atmospheric conditions, Barton said, the gas will collect low to the ground, creating a dangerous situation because a nearby ignition source, such as a radio or a passing car, can set it off.
While the fire department secured the area, crews from Questar Gas came in and dug down to the line. They managed to cut the gas off, limiting the shutoff to the church and the construction site, while still supplying gas to the surrounding buildings.
"They were able to pinch it off right there," Barton said.
As for the fire department, in such incidents, firefighters depend on small air-quality monitors called AreaRAEs, said Ogden Fire Capt. Travis Anderson.
The small devices gather information on oxygen, carbon dioxide and lower-explosive gas levels, which they transmit to an incident command post.
"We can sit in our engines, read the oxygen levels and see where the plumes are going," Anderson said. "They can go out a mile; we can be that far away."
The fire department also uses the devices at indoor automotive events and places such as the fair, to monitor air-quality levels.
Anderson said the department has relied on the machines for about 10 years and praised the devices for being portable, dependable and low-maintenance.
For the Monday morning gas leak, the fire department arrived on the scene with seven air monitors, including four portable devices and three that attached directly on the firefighters.
By 9:15 a.m., the fire department cleared the scene. Questar managed to fix the leak and have the line open by 11 a.m.