City worker hits gas line

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Al Key
Emergency crews from Atmos dig across the street from the explosion to get to a safe cut-off valve on Emerson Lane Tuesday September 24, 2013, in Denton, Tx. Photo by Al Key/DRC
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Man receives minor injuries from explosion

A gas line explosion Tuesday morning left one city employee injured.

Kenneth Hedges, spokesman for the Denton Fire Department, said the city water department was changing out water meters when an employee struck a residential gas line while digging in the 1100 block of Emerson Lane.

The man suffered some minor injuries, including singed nostrils and eyebrows, Hedges said.

“The ambulance checked him out and suggested he go to the hospital,” Hedges said.

Officials said the employee was taken by a city truck to Denton Regional Medical Center and was later released.

The explosion occurred at 9 a.m. and the call to 911 came in shortly afterward by a supervisor reporting the ruptured line, Hedges said.

“We thought it was large and prepared for the worst at the station,” he said. “It’s better to be overprepared in this type of situation.”

Lindsey Baker, a city spokeswoman, said only the injured employee was at the scene at the time of the explosion.

One person was inside the house where the explosion happened and was told to leave the residence until crews could handle the situation.

A nearby school, Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, was evacuated because of a misunderstanding between fire officials.

“They were moved onto the playground area so the building was between them and the fire,” Hedges said.

Mario Zavala, Denton school district spokesman, said the students were evacuated as a precautionary measure for about 5 to 10 minutes.

Firefighters went in to check the school and monitored the air quality before the students were brought back into the building to resume class.

Ryan Perry, who lives directly across the street from the site of the explosion, said he noticed water crews doing meter work while he was taking his daughter to school that morning.

He said he did not hear any explosion.

“All of a sudden I looked out my window and there was fire,” he said.

Perry wasn’t asked to leave his residence, but he said crews would be digging in his yard to turn off the gas.

Hedges said the gas-fed fire stopped at 10:20 a.m. after Atmos Energy crews were able to cut off the gas.

Jennifer Ryan, a spokeswoman for Atmos, said the damage occurred to a half-inch service line going directly to the one residential property.

Firefighters cleared the scene 10 minutes after the gas was turned off, leaving Atmos on site for the line repair, officials said.

A statement issued by John McDill, Atmos’ vice president of pipeline safety, indicated the company is cooperating with the city while the accident is investigated.

Staff writer John D. Harden contributed to this report.

MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.

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