July 28, 2008

Gas Leak Leads to Temporary Evacuation of Some Sun City Residents

By Daniel Brownstein, The Island Packet, Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Jul. 28--A storm that moved through greater Bluffton on Sunday afternoon caused a major natural-gas leak near Sun City Hilton Head's Okatie maintenance yard off S.C. 170, prompting road closures and evacuations.

The leak was reported around 5:06 p.m., and it lasted about three hours.

It was caused by a large tree falling on an SCE&G measuring and regulating station, where high-pressure natural gas comes off the transmission pipeline and is distributed to the lower pressure lines that serve neighborhoods, said Patricia Freshwater, a spokeswoman for the company.

Two valves were leaking.

SCE&G was able to reroute its natural gas service so no customers lost service during the leak, Freshwater said.

By 9:30 p.m., crews had secured the two valves. This morning, a tree service will remove the tree, and additional repairs will be made.

The leak closed down S.C. 170 between U.S. 278 and Bluffton Parkway for about three hours. Roughly

50 homes on Coburn Lane East and Honesty Lane in Sun City were evacuated. Residents were taken to Pinckney Hall while the leak was repaired.

"That's standard procedure just to ensure everyone's safety," Freshwater said, "but no one was ever in any danger."

Todd Malphrus, a battalion chief with the Bluffton Township Fire District, said the response was well-coordinated between SCE&G, the county's emergency operations center, his firefighters and several law enforcement agencies.

"Everyone worked together," he said.


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Copyright (c) 2008, The Island Packet, Hilton Head Island, S.C.

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