Austin, TX – A house fire triggered by a gas-line break caused a Northeast Austin neighborhood to be cordoned off and a nearby elementary school to be evacuated Thursday evening.
About 1 p.m. Thursday, firefighters arrived at the 6500 block of Northeast Drive to reports of a high-pressure gas leak that burst through the front lawn of a home. As they were securing the area, an explosion occurred inside the house, and firefighters spent four hours trying to extinguish the blaze. No one was injured by the fire or the leak, but the owner has been displaced.
“The fire kept reigniting due to gas entering the lower level of the house,” said Battalion Chief Palmer Buck of the Austin Fire Department.
Students at Andrews Elementary were bused home early and others sent to nearby Reagan High School because of high levels of gas fumes from the fire upwind from the school. Buck said Andrews will be open as usual today, and residents returned to their homes Thursday evening.
Damages to the home were estimated at between $100,000 and $200,000, Buck said. Teri Green, a spokeswoman for Texas Gas Service, said the gas valves were shut off about 3:30 p.m. Service crews are working to repair the damage to the gas main and investigate the leak.
“It’s unusual for this to happen,” Green said. “Usually, these breaks occur when there is construction nearby.”
Green said no gas service was lost in the neighborhood or to downtown Austin, where the line fed to.
“We were lucky that natural gas has a very distinct smell, and when people notice it they usually call us or the fire department right away,” Green said. “We were able to get everything under control pretty quickly.”