Gas leak spurs sheltering of hospital

SNELLVILLE — Officials put Emory Eastside Medical Center on guard this morning and restricted access to the Snellville hospital when construction crews in the area struck a gas line.

Firefighters and a Hazmat team were dispatched at 8:20 a.m., after crews doing grading work for a nearby hospital expansion had struck a 4-inch gas main, said Fire Department spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge.

Emergency personnel closed a hospital entrance and restricted occupants from leaving the hospital buildings until Atlanta Gas Light stopped the leak just after 10 a.m. No evacuations were necessary, and ambulances and emergency room visits were not restricted, Rutledge said.

Fire officials turned the scene back over to the hospital about 10:30 a.m., Rutledge said.

“The only thing we had to do was pretty much shut down the (hospital) air-conditioning system temporarily,” he said. “The wind was in our favor ... it helped dissipate the gas product.”

No injuries were reported.

Mulch catches fire, starting huge blaze

WINDER — An enormous pile of mulch at a Winder recycling center combusted Thursday morning, launching Barrow County Emergency Services into a daylong battle.

At 7:17 a.m., Barrow County officials got the call from Cower Recycling at 1185 Barrow Industrial Parkway. A burning pile of mulch, approximately 38,000 cubic yards worth, awaited them.

“The pile was burning with smoke being visible from Highway 316,” spokesman Lt. Scott Dakin said.

The blaze was reportedly caused by “the degradation of the mulch with an inability to allow the heat to escape due to the size of the pile,” Dakin said.

After several hours of battling the flames, Barrow County firefighters turned the scene over to the recycling company in order for them to dig into the large pile, separate it and prevent the flames from reigniting, Dakin said.

Fire damages vacant house

LILBURN — A Wednesday night fire damaged a vacant Lilburn home in the 4900 block of Cold Springs Drive, officials said.

Neighbors reported that flames were shooting from the side of the home about 8 p.m. Firefighters knocked the fire down about 20 minutes later, Rutledge said.

Fire damage was mostly contained to a floor system between two rooms, Rutledge said.

No one was at the house when the fire department arrived. No injuries were reported.

The exact cause of the blaze is under investigation, Rutledge said.

Shed destroyed by afternoon fire

LAWRENCEVILLE — Gwinnett County firefighters responded to the 400 block of Oak Way in Lawrenceville Thursday afternoon, finding a shed fully involved with flames, officials said.

Reporting at 2:38 p.m., firefighters were able to contain the fire, which had extended to nearby trees and brush, in about 10 minutes, Rutledge said.

The cause of the fire may have been an outdoor burn conducted on the property the previous day, Rutledge said.