Gas leak causes Danville shopping center, homes to evacuate

A ruptured gas pipeline forced the evacuation of a Danville shopping center and nearly a dozen homes Tuesday afternoon and evening, a fire department spokesman said.

There was no explosion and no one was injured, but the leak caused most of Danville Manor Shopping Center, a strip center built in the 1960s, to close shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday. Ten homes also were evacuated.

A bulldozer exposed a 4-inch natural gas pipeline while leveling a lot at Hustonville Road and Lisa Avenue for a new development, said Ken Pflug, fire marshal for the Danville Fire Department.

Hustonville Road was closed to traffic from the U.S. 127 Bypass to near Baughman Avenue, he said.

"We've closed Taco Bell, Wendy's, Arby's across the street, A&W Root Beer, Fazoli's, Long John Silver's and Burger King," Pflug said.

Atmos Energy employees were still working to repair the leak as of about 9:45 p.m., and evacuated residents had not been allowed to return to their homes, said Atmos spokesman Greg Coker. He said the work was expected to be complete about 11:15 p.m.

"They've fired up a welder to weld a coupling or fitting" on the pipe, Pflug said.

The shopping center closing meant there were no Tuesday afternoon or evening classes at Eastern Kentucky University's campus there, said spokesman Marc Whitt. That affected about 200 students.