“It was a ruptured gas line — a two-inch main line rupture,” said GF-R Battalion Chief Rick Rickerson.
The rupture led to the immediate closure of a portion of Taylor Street, one of the busiest thoroughfares in Griffin.
“The call came in about 4:50 p.m. It is the busiest street we have in town, so it caused some problems,” Rickerson said.
However, the timing of the incident also alleviated certain additional problems for emergency personnel.
“We did have to evacuate and close down Sonic, but since the call did come in at about 5 o’clock, a lot of area businesses were already closing and that prevented some evacuations that would have otherwise been necessary,” he said.
The closure of Sonic was the result of ongoing tests performed by GF-R that indicated air quality in that location had become unsafe.
“We did air quality monitoring downwind every 15 minutes. The air was traveling in a southeast direction and Sonic was the closest business to the leak,” Rickerson said. “As we performed the air quality monitoring, we learned that some areas were approaching unsafe levels of natural gas. We were also closely checking for gas pockets. Gas pocketing occurs when natural gas collects, such as it did under the awnings at Sonic, and it can reach levels where an explosion may be possible.”
According to Rickerson, the situation was aided by a light wind.
“We did have a four to five mile per hour wind last night and that helped keep the air stirred up. Also, due to the direction the wind was blowing, we didn’t have to evacuate Food Depot,” he said.
He said the initial road closure affected Taylor Street from North Expressway to 18th Street, but conditions later caused that to be extended.
“About an hour into the incident, the air quality between 17th and 18th streets deteriorated, so we extended the closure to 16th Street,” he said.
In total, Rickerson said Taylor Street was shut down for slightly more than four hours.
“It leaked a lot of gas. A lot. That was a large line with a lot of gas. Atlanta Gas Light came in to locate the line that was ruptured, but it took them a couple of hours to do that,” he said. “They were really working on it, but ruptured lines aren’t always easy to locate. They had to dig holes in six locations before they were able to locate the source of the problem.”
Rickerson said there were no reports of illness due to the gas leak.