Clay County Sheriff's Deputies Brison Swearingen (left) and Doug Barr assisted the Clay City Volunteer Fire Department in evacuating a two-block radius during a gas leak near the Abundant Life Worship Center Monday.
- Residents in two-block area advised to leave their homes while gas leak was repaired
By ANDY MCCAMMON
Authorities evacuated a half-dozen Clay City residences when a lawn mower severed a gas line Monday afternoon.
The Clay City Volunteer Fire Department, assisted by Clay County Sheriff's deputies, cleared about six homes within a two-block radius of a vacant lot adjacent to 600 Forest St. in Clay City, the site of the Abundant Life Worship Center, when the leak was reported at 1:15 p.m. A Vectren gas repair crew stopped the leak at 4:02 p.m.
The one-inch gas line-- out of use for years, according to Clay City Fire Chief Ron Travis-- was severed by a church worker mowing the grass in the lot. Deputies from the Clay County Sheriff's Department assisted with the evacuation of several houses south of the property, and traffic in the area was restricted to avoid igniting the gas, authorities said.
"We put out a couple of trash fires just to be on the safe side, so it wouldn't ignite," Travis said.
The driver of the lawn mower escaped without injury, according to Clay County Sheriff's Deputy Brison Swearingen.
"They're probably pretty lucky that the lawn mower didn't go shooting in the air," Swearingen said.
Vectren personnel arrived at the scene shortly after the line break occurred, Travis said, but the worker was unable to locate a shut-off valve for the line. A second crew arrived shortly before 4 p.m. and promptly shut off the line, he said.
"They found the valve and got it shut off quick," Travis said. "They did an excellent job, I thought."
Vicki Nelson and several family members were asked to vacate their house at 604 W. 7th St. around 1:30 p.m., she said.
"They came beating on our door, telling us to evacuate," she said. "Don't turn anything on, don't turn anything off-- just leave the premises."
"I appreciated all the people we asked to leave their houses for the cooperation they gave us," Travis said.
Staff members at Clay City's elementary and high schools were advised to close their windows, but the schools' schedules proceeded as usual, Swearingen said.