Fire chief: Warwick Township gas leak could have been avoided

Lancaster

Firefighters said a gas leak that forced dozens of people out of their homes and caused an elementary school to lose power was preventable.

The gas leak happened in a housing complex off East Newport Road in Warwick Township on Friday afternoon.

Chris Wentzel was one of the people who had to be temporarily evacuated from his home. He said after he was told to leave, one of his first reactions was to grab his cat “Lilly”.

“She came right to me, thankfully,” Wentzel said. “I wasn’t chasing her around the apartment. I had the dog in one hand and had her in the other.”

As Wentzel was leaving, he told ABC 27 News he was able to talk to his neighbors about what happened.

“The neighbor’s driveway lifted up off the ground,” he said. “That’s how much force was behind it.”

Lititz Fire Chief Ron Oettel said an excavating company was digging to install a fence for a homeowner in the housing complex.

Oettel said no one called the number that’s suggested to call before digging. As a result, a natural gas line was busted.

“We had a literal gas cloud coming from over those buildings and from the buildings on Oak Street,” Oettel said.

Responders needed to shut off power to dozens in the area, including at John Bonfield Elementary School, because of a risk of fire.

Oettel said the whole situation could have been avoided.

“These are the kind of things that can result in catastrophic endings,” he said. “It’s really important that PA One Call is notified.”

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