Lightning related gas leak in Liberty Park causes worry in residents

VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. (WIAT) –  UPDATE: All gas lines have been restored and residents are back in their homes.

ORIGINAL: Alagasco representatives believe a lightning bolt is to blame for a damaged gas line in Liberty Park.

Five homes were evacuated when a neighbor noticed the leak Friday morning.

The unmistakable sound of an extremely close thunderclap jarred people on Lake Colony Drive around 7 a.m. Friday. Neighbors say a house on a cul-de-sac was hit by lightning.

“It was very, very sharp wrap and caused me to sit up in bed,” said Charles Marek.

That was just the beginning-of a long day for a handful of Liberty Park homeowners.

“It was pouring down rain but about 11 o’clock the fire department came and got everybody out of all five houses because everybody was smelling gas, and I think the lightning hit the gas line and it was all over the place it was even bubbling up from the street,” said Sharp Gillespy.

Crews suspect the electrical discharge and the soaking wet ground caused a fairly large leak on a high pressure line two houses away.

“I walked at to the end of my driveway and you can hear the gas gushing. I mean it made a noise like a flowing river, and so we knew there was a problem,” said Marek. “They told me they didn’t want any of our vehicles moved because they didn’t know how much damage underneath the concrete might have happened because the gas flow was high pressure.”

Marek said firefighters told his family not to move their cars or even use their cell phones to because a single spark could be catastrophic.

“It’s a scary thought,” said Marek. “My son and daughter-in-law are staying with us last night. So we had four cars and we couldn’t go anywhere.”

The street was closed for much of the day as crews dug around one driveway.

“I’ve never seen anything like this and everybody came away without getting hurt,” said Gillespy.

To give you an idea how much damage that one lightning bolt did, a woman who lives nearly a football field away, says it knocked out the invisible fence in her yard.

Neighbors tell WIAT it’s the second time the same house has been struck by lightning since March.

Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News

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