Fredericksburg City Beat

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Gas leak at Eagle Village shopping center

Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi

Photo by Lindley Estes

The Giant store at Eagle Village reopened just before 10 a.m. after a nearby gas leak forced its earlier evacuation.

At the hotel construction site next to the grocery store, crews hit a one and a half inch lateral gas line, leading off of the main line, said Brandon Bass, battalion chief for the Fredericksburg fire department.

Bass said the line was supposed to be dead, but crews realized immediately after hitting it that it was still active and called his department at 8:23 a.m.

Stafford fire and medical units also responded.

No one was hurt due to the gas leak.

Just before 10 a.m., firefighters and police left the scene as Columbia Gas took the lead on repairing the line.

Columbia Gas shut down the main gas line running into the shopping center while repairs continued. Gas is still cut off to the shopping center.

Bob Innes, spokesman for Columbia Gas, said the center should be “in good order this afternoon.”

The gas company has between eight and 10 customers on the main line that was shut down.

Bass described the leak as relatively small, saying that they respond to similar gas-related issues once every couple of weeks.

Staff at Giant voluntarily evacuated their store after smelling gas near the exit. There were about five people shopping and 20 employees in the store at the time of the evacuation.

Howard Snyder, manager of the supermarket, said he also contacted the fire department.

He said they noticed the odor around 8:15 a.m.

Snyder said that closing for a few hours effects their business all day.

“It’s more than just shutting down,” he said. “People hear about the leak and are fearful.”

One shopper that was turned away from Giant Thursday morning due to the leak was 19-year-old Peyton Hughes, a UMW student who lives in Stafford.

“I wanted some orange juice,” she said. “I wake up early on Thursdays for my lab so I get orange juice here in the morning.”

She said she didn’t mind the inconvenience since she walked across the street from UMW for her groceries, but understands why people who drove from farther away might be upset.

“And there’s a 7 Eleven across the street,” she said. “They have orange juice.”

This is the second time that there has been a gas leak and Giant has been evacuated because of nearby construction.

Bass said that a much larger gas leak occurred from the same site about a year ago.

“That leak was fairly substantial,” he said. “We had gas on College Avenue.”

Gerald Campbell, a billing clerk at Giant, remembered the previous leak while standing in the parking lot waiting for the store to reopen.

“At least it was warmer,” he said. “There was definitely a strong odor in the store. We were out for about an hour and a half.”

Most stores were not open in the Eagle Village shopping center when the leak occurred.


- Lindley Estes

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