Public works chief takes responsibility for downtown gas leak
The public works department took responsibility for hitting a gas line that lead to an evacuation of several buildings downtown on Thursday.
Darren Komonoski, the operations manager for the department of public works, said that a contractor working for the city was installing a new fibre optics cable when the gas main was hit in an alleyway between the Revelstoke Credit Union and the Howson Building off Second Street West.
“We had a contractor doing the excavation for us, city works people were on the ground as well and still the line was hit,” he told the Times Review. “It was an error.”
The gas leak happened on Thursday, Oct. 11, at around 9 a.m. It forced the evacuation of the the credit union, the Howson building at the corner of Second and Mackenzie, the entire west side of the 200 block of Mackenzie Avenue, the Selkirk Medical Clinic, Second Chance/Escape Within and Brandon Bowers Funeral Home.
People were huddled on intersections surrounding the closure area while the fire department blocked off the area immediately surrounding the scene.
Downtown was blocked off to vehicle traffic from Orton to Campbell Avenue and First to Third Street. Pedestrians and cyclists were being allowed through.
The smell of gas permeated the area at least to the Times Review office at Second Street West and Garden Avenue. Firefighters were checking gas levels throughout the area, said Girard.
At the credit union, the call to evacuate came just before 9 a.m. The gas could be smelled instantly, said one employee.
At the Selkirk Medical Clinic, evacuation came just after 9 a.m. Fortunately, there were few patients in at the time, said office manager Terry Marshall.
FortisBC dispatched a crew from Salmon Arm to take care of the leak, who crimped off the pipe and made the necessary repairs. It then restored service to the 54 customers affected by the break. The downtown area was re-opened at around 1 p.m. Some businesses stayed closed while others opened up.
Michael Allison, a spokesperson for FotisBC, said Fortis has a tech person in Revelstoke, but a larger crew had to be brought in due to the size of the leak.
“With a case like this, it’s a little bit bigger,” he said. “The crews in Salmon Arm have all the equipment to handle a larger incident such as this. It’s just the scale, but there’s always someone available in Revelstoke 24 hours per day from FortisBC.”
Komonoski said all normal safety procedures were followed and local utilities were notified about the dig.
“That was all done,” he said. “Unfortunately it should have just been hand dug because gas lines are anywhere from 12 inches to 18 inches in the ground.”
He said the city would be responsible for the repair costs, but did not know how much that would be.
“It was one of those unfortunate things,” Komonoski said. We’re educated, we have regular safety meetings to discuss these things and unfortunately it still happened.”