A gas leak at a construction site briefly shut down a Danville street Monday morning, forcing the evacuation of a nearby Centre College building and putting glass-blowing equipment in jeopardy.
Danville Fire Department responded shortly after 9 a.m. to reports of a gas line that had been struck off Beatty Avenue. Fire Chief Woody Ball said a construction crew working on Centre’s Brockman Residential Commons hit a small line that runs to the Jones Visual Arts Building.
Atmos Energy workers located the leak and cut off the gas supply to repair the line, causing some tense moments for Powell.
The one-of-a-kind furnace built by Powell and his crew, which would cost as much as $80,000 to replace, constantly heats about 900 pounds of molten glass that could crack if it cools too rapidly, essentially ruining the apparatus. If the furnace had been lost, Powell said it could have meant canceling glass-blowing classes for the fall term, which starts next Monday.
Powell was prepared to try to save the furnace by heating it with propane tanks, but Atmos fixed the leak within an hour and he was able to restart before temperatures fell too far below their usual level of 2,200 degrees.
Powell said the work of the gas company and fire department put him at ease about the potential impact on the glass studio.
“The chief and the guys from the gas company were great,” Powell said. “They showed a lot of concern and made me feel they were doing everything they could. The fire department sent some firefighters down here to check to see if we needed any help. I really want to thank them.”
Ball said people doing excavation work must find out where gas and other utility lines are before they dig, but the plastic line that was hit was unmarked.
“State law says you need to know where the lines are before you do any kind of excavating, but even then you have to dig with caution,” Ball said. “A lot of these lines predate GPS (global positioning systems) and it’s not just gas, but you also have a lot of water, sewer and fiber optics.”