MEDINA — An estimated 150 people were evacuated during a three-hour gas leak Friday afternoon near Medina Square.
The leak was capped about 3:30 p.m. Friday at the intersection of South Court Street and Smith Road, said Medina fire Capt. Steve Ingersol.
Crews from Fabrizi Trucking & Paving Co. of Cleveland, the construction company working on Smith Road, accidentally clipped an eight-inch gas main Friday. It caused natural gas to blow into the air for hours. The smell of gas permeated the area.
“You can see it,” Police Chief Ed Kinney said. “It’s off-color gas.”
He said luckily the windy conditions helped disperse it.
Ingersol said the call came into his department at 12:25 p.m.
He immediately ordered the evacuation of a one-block radius from the gas leak and had traffic rerouted in a two-block radius. Traffic around the square was bottlenecked for hours.
“The gas company, police and fire all worked together quickly,” Ingersol said. “Police and fire did a wonderful job. Everyone was cooperative. It came out well.”
There were no injuries reported, Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell said.
Columbia Gas crews were on the scene quickly. Ingersol said the utility company crimped one end of the line and then dug a hole and crimped the other end to shut off the flow of gas.
Ingersol said about 60 children were evacuated from Castle Noel, 260 S. Court St. Scores of shop workers and residents also were asked to leave the general area. In all, he estimated about 150 were evacuated.
Workers at Life’s Treasures, 323 S. Court St., were informed by a Medina fireman that they must leave the building.
“We’ve had snowstorms and other weather-related (events), but not something like this,” Life’s Treasures manager Patricia Conklin said.
Ingersol said his main fear was that the leak would ignite. At one point, he said it was “real serious.”
“When it’s not burning, that’s when it’s most dangerous,” he said.
He also was concerned about the brick apartment building at 302 S. Court St. and the yellow apartment next door at 300 S. Court. Gas poured into those buildings and he feared they could ignite.
But by Friday night, Ingersol said the buildings were ventilated and were opened up to residents.
South Court Street has been the scene of much activity in the last few months.
A brick wall collapsed at Gardener’s Cottage, 226 S. Court St., last fall.
The gas company also had to replace the main line on the street, which left several businesses and residences without heat for an extended period of time.
Due to the gas leak and the closing of county offices, Medina County Treasurer John Burke said he’s extended the due date for property taxes through Monday. They had been due Friday.
Everything appeared to be back to normal Friday evening, as the Medina Community Band was scheduled to perform on the square.
“It’s a normal crowded Friday night on the square,” Ingersol said.