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Residents can return home after gas leak in Three Rivers

THREE RIVERS, Mich. -- Power has been restored but gas services will continue to be shut off for safety, after a gas leak on Thursday afternoon.

Three Rivers Fire Department and SEMCO energy told residents they can return home.

The gas leak was in the area of Douglas Avenue and Millard Street near Andrews Elementary School.

SEMCO are working to complete repairs of damaged gas lines.

Residents say it all happened around 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

Chief Carl Holcomb of the Three Rivers Fire Department says a crew had been working on construction on Douglas Avenue when the crew suddenly hit a gas line.

"We were on the porch watching them dig up the road so they could redo it and all of a sudden that pipe just broke and gas was spraying everywhere," said Julie Shidaker, who has been living on Douglas Avenue for the last 38 years.

Shidaker was just enjoying the beautiful afternoon when she saw the natural gas pipe burst near the intersection of Douglas Avenue and Millard Street in Three Rivers, right by the Andrews Elementary School.

Other neighbors described seeing a man quickly run away from the underground line, and that triggered a panic.

"My husband and i just looked at each other and he's like 'get the kids out of the house,'" said Shidaker. "And that was it, that's all we thought. We knew it was gas and that was it. We knew we had to leave."

Chief Holcomb confirms several blocks around the construction site had to be evacuated.

The fire department originally cleared the scene around 7:30 p.m. Thursday evening, but then it happened again.

"In the process of trying to repair the leak, the main ruptured again so we were called back to the scene a second time," said Chief Holcomb.

Shidaker and her family were forced out of their home for several hours.

She said the smell of the gas was very strong even though it was within safe limits.

"They say the power is on, but the gas won't be," said Shidaker. "They'll be working through the night is what they told us to get this fixed."

Chief Holcomb says the fire department has monitored the air around the scene and is confident that they stayed below the explosive limits of natural gas.

SEMCO representatives would not speak to ABC 57 News, but Chief Holcomb says SEMCO would be working all night on Douglas Avenue.


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