“I believe the gas is so rich that when it comes in contact with the fire, it is just blowing the flames back,” said Firefighter Shannon Cooper. “There is probably no immediate danger, but as the gas travels further away and mixes with the oxygen in the air, it becomes more dangerous.”
Jerry Diller, of the South Shore Fire Department said the first call came in around 6:30 p.m. The report said a brush fire was burning in a wooded area of Saxony Village. Firefighters arrived on the scene to find a gas line leak in close proximity to the flames, prompting an immediate evacuation of six houses on Boyd Lane.
“Most of the residents didn't go too far, and when the repairs are made, there are people who are in the neighborhood who will call them, and they'll return to their homes,” said Kenny Taylor, chief of the South Shore Fire Department.
“When we got here it was burning pretty good, but there was really no place for it to catch and become a major fire because it's too close to the creek,” Cooper said.
For the next hour, the fire spread to the thorn thickets and the flames flared up and died down. The gas leak could be heard and smelled several blocks away.
Because Methane is odorless and colorless, the gas company adds a chemical, Marcaptan, which gives natural gas the sulfur-like or rotten- egg odor.
James Wheatley, of Columbia Gas in Ashland, Ky., arrived at about 7:30 p.m. and went down the hillside to inspect the break. When Wheatley returned, he told Taylor, a crew was on its way.
“They will need to shut off the line and make repairs,” Wheatley said.
At approximately 9:30 p.m., the Columbia Gas crew arrived and worked to repair the line.
A white PVC pipe was exposed, prompting some theories.
“It looks like the hill has slipped,” said Wheatley.
Firefighter Jason Bryant said he agreed.
“It looks like over the years there has been some erosion in that area,” he said.
Cooper said it is possible the fire melted the pipe, causing the gas line to break.
Taylor said the investigation into the fire and the gas line break would continue after the work was completed by the Columbia Gas crew.