UPDATE: Highway 500 reopens after gas leak

Major route closed temporarily east of I-5

By Craig Brown and Paul Suarez

Published:

Updated: February 24, 2012, 9:15 AM

 

A ruptured natural gas pipeline forced closure of state Highway 500 between Interstate 5 and Falk Road for about an hour Friday morning.

The leak was reported around 7:30 a.m., according to emergency dispatch logs.

Two engines with the Vancouver Fire Department responded and found a leak in a 2-inch residential pipe, said Capt. Dave James, a fire spokesman.

The Washington State Patrol shut down eastbound lanes of Highway 500 around 8 a.m., said Trooper Ryan Tanner, a state patrol spokesman. Westbound lanes were also shut down around 8:30 a.m., he said. All lanes reopened around 8:50 a.m.

The gas leak was apparently near the highway, in a cul-de-sac at the 3400 block of Grand Boulevard. Firefighters stood by in case of fire and to monitor gas levels, said James.

Residents of five nearby homes were asked to stay indoors and to keep all doors and windows closed until the leak was plugged. Several residents left their homes and stood on a nearby corner. One man, who didn’t give his name, said he had been outside for quite awhile because of the leak and was late for work.

It was not immediately known what caused the leak; however, the area is under major construction as contractors build a new overpass at Highway 500 and Northeast St. Johns Boulevard.

Valerie White, a Northwest Natural spokeswoman, said the leak, caused by a contractor, didn’t cause any service outages. Crews shut off the flow of gas, made the repair and turned the gas back on, she said.

Northwest Natural is investigating the cause, including if the contractor called before beginning to dig, she said.