The alarm went out early this (Tuesday) afternoon in Des Moines when workers broke a gas line. Fire Department spokesman Brian O’Keefe says it caused a leak of natural gas at the construction site on Indianola Avenue, on the capital city’s southeast side. Contractors were putting in fenceposts when they cut a one-inch gas pipe, causing a gas leak and bringing the fire department to the scene. The fire department evacuated an area for a couple hundred yards around the site, clearing people out of the homes “just to make sure.” O-Keefe says fortunately there was a pretty good breeze that dispersed the gas and prevented it from building up in any spot where it could pose a risk of explosion. MidAmerican Energy came and capped the leak and he says everyone got to go back home. There’s a service called “Iowa One-Call” that workers and property owners are supposed to phone before doing any work, so experts with utility maps will come out to the worksite and mark where all the pipes and wires are buried. O’Keefe says One-Call DID come in the mark the site in southeast Des Moines, but some of the contractors disregarded some of those markings and hit a one-inch main, which he says disrupted the neighborhood for about half an hour. Several contractors have been ordered to pay penalties in the thousands of dollars in recent years for not contacting One-Call or disregarding its markings — it’s not yet known if this case will involve a penalty.
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