Water company hits gas line, fire creates 20-foot flames - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Water company hits gas line, fire creates 20-foot flames

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Crews were fighting a massive gas leak fire near Browns Ferry Rd. and Patten Chapel Rd. Wednesday morning.

It started around 10 a.m. Tennessee American Water workers, who were working on a water main, accidentally struck a natural gas line with construction equipment.

When crews hit the gas line, it burst into flames, some up to 20 feet high. Several fire trucks and a hazmat team responded. The fire traveled through a power line to a nearby business, Hood Van Lines. Witnesses said the scene was intense.

"We heard three big bangs, and saw all the [power] lines just completely melt away," said Crystal Tralka.

She had stopped at the adjacent BP gas station on her way through town when the fire started.

"A big huge adrenaline rush, I was shaking everywhere," she said.

"Somehow the gas from the gas line found an ignition source and ignited into flames," said Bruce Garner, Chattanooga Fire Dept.

After hitting the gas line, Garner said workers got away safe and called 911.

"Since the natural gas was already ignited and nobody was injured, this is actually a good thing because at this point, we know where the gas is," he said.

Firefighters allowed the fire to burn until Chattanooga Gas Company workers could get there to shut of the line. The fire then died on its own, less than an hour after it began.

Firefighters and Chattanooga Police evacuated the immediate area, including the adjacent motel, American's Best Value Inn, as a safety precaution.

EPB crews also cut power to nearby lines for safety reasons, causing temporary outages to nearby homes and Lookout Valley Public Schools, Garner said.

Power was restored within a couple of hours. No injuries were reported in the fire.

The company called Tennessee 811 before work began, and did have a "dig ticket" permit to dig in the area.

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