Gas leak causes 7 home evacuations

LILBURN - A high-pressure gas leak on Rockbridge Road caused the evacuation of seven homes and interrupted traffic flow for hours along a popular thoroughfare between Jimmy Carter Boulevard and Lawrenceville Highway.

A construction crew digging with a trackhoe about 1 p.m. Wednesday ruptured the 6-inch steel line at a valve, said Capt. Thomas Rutledge, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Fire Department.

The incident happened between the Hindu mandir and Global Empowerment Ministries, on a stretch of Rockbridge Road that is lined with concrete barriers and orange construction cones. The pressure of the gas coming out sounded like the waterfalls at Niagara Falls.

An emergency crew with Atlanta Gas Light quickly responded to the scene. The crew, however, had to wait to begin their work of stopping the leak until Georgia Power responded to cut off the electricity flowing in overhead power lines, which were a possible ignition source for the gas, Rutledge said.

Thirteen people were evacuated from the seven homes, and no one was allowed into the area between Dickens Road and Tug Drive, Rutledge said. No one was injured in the incident, he said.

At nearby Lilburn Elementary School, 35 students were unable to be taken home by a school bus, said Sloan Roach, spokeswoman for Gwinnett County Public Schools. The parents of all of the children were notified and asked to pick up the students at school, she said.

Rutledge later said the situation was brought under control just before 6:30 p.m. All residents were allowed to return to their homes shortly after.

Rockbridge Road remained closed as Atlanta Gas Light made repairs to the ruptured line, Rutledge said. He expected the repairs to conclude before midnight.