Local construction causes second gas leak

By Kim Harris

A gas leak occurred Thursday morning after a two inch gas line was severed on the corner of Lucinda Avenue and Russell Road.

At approximately 8:17 a.m. the DeKalb Fire Department received a 911 call and responded immediately.

The leak was caused by an outside excavating crew from Cortland, Ill., that was digging with a backhoe and struck the line. The crew was replacing a sewage system for a private home.

The excavating crew that caused the leak is in no way connected to the road construction that is being done on Lucinda Avenue.

The DeKalb Fire Department controlled the situation until Northern Illinois Gas could arrive to stop the leak.

“We were very fortunate because Northern Illinois Gas was near by,” Assistant Fire Chief Pete Polarek said.

No one was injured, but housing in the immediate area had to be evacuated. However, this did not include on-campus student housing.

“The fire department has control of any evacuation,” Rob Vest, director of NIU’s environmental health and safety department said. “They say who will be evacuated and when.”

About 500 to 600 feet were blocked off both east and west of the Lucinda and Russell intersection. About 200 to 300 feet north were blocked off on Russell Road.

No through traffic was allowed on Lucinda. Students were rerouted around the back of the buildings on both sides of the road.

According to Vest, it took about one hour to stop the leak and get the area secured.

“The strong winds helped to dilute most of the gas in the air,” Vest said.

On June 22, a similar gas leak occurred on the corner of Normal Road and Lucinda Avenue.

Four university buildings had to be evacuated when a bulldozer severed an old four inch natural gas line.

A worker from Rockford Blacktop Construction Co. struck the line while doing excavation work for the street widening and reconstruction project on Lucinda.

No one was injured, but fumes spread quickly and more of the campus had to be blocked off because of that leak.