Gas line ruptured; residents evacuated

Mike Linn

Portales city officials evacuated several homes in a city neighborhood and stopped traffic in a four-block area Wednesday after an underground natural gas pipeline ruptured.
The rupture split sections of a road and leaked an unknown amount of gas in the air, according to officials.
The leak occurred at about 3 p.m. near the southeast corner of Olive Street and North Avenue A after a PNM Gas Company system pressure regulator rose to levels beyond what the company’s underground pipes could handle, said PNM spokesman Don Brown out of Albuquerque.
The roads were blocked and homes near the leak evacuated as a safety precaution, Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry said, but there were no injuries or fires because of the leak. Residents returned to their homes around 5 p.m., fire department officials said.
Brown said a regulator, which controls the pressure of natural gas flowing through the system, was set too high. Brown added there could be more leaks.
“We’re urging, as we always do, that any costumer who smells gas should leave their residence or business and call us as soon as possible, and we’ll respond to every call from customers,” Brown said.
For the next two to three days PNM officials will investigate the 88 miles of underground pipe in Portales to check for leaks, Brown said.
Used in Portales for heaters and stoves, natural gas is extremely flammable, Brown added.
Berry said a resident in the neighborhood called local law enforcement officials after discovery the leak and smelling gas.
“At this point in time it’s a wait for them to dig it loose, seal it off and get it repaired,” Berry said.