The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

October 14, 2013

Firefighters survive very busy night

By Samantha Pidde Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — Area firefighters had a busy Friday night, with a gas leak and a two-story residence fire.

Clinton Fire Department Battalion Chief Joel Atkinson said he had to sleep in Saturday after crews worked Friday night, into Saturday morning on the two calls. He said it is not often that two major incidents occur in one night.

“It was a very busy night,” Atkinson said.

Firefighters were called at 6:19 p.m. for a gas leak at an area behind the Clinton Public Library’s Lyons Branch, 105 Main Ave. Atkinson confirmed Sunday the leak occurred after a vehicle struck a gas meter in the alley.

Turning off the gas was delayed because the area was concrete, so Alliant Energy crews could not reach the shut off. Atkinson said if it had been at a residential area, Alliant could have dug up the yard.

Instead, workers had to go back to 23rd Avenue North and dig up an area with a backhoe to clamp it off. The company also shut off electricity in the area for approximately an hour.

“They would have had to jack-hammer the concrete out,” said Atkinson, about trying to reach it in the concrete area.

Firefighters evacuated businesses and residences in the area. The evacuation started in the 2300 block of North Second Street and the 2300 block of Roosevelt Street. Crews had to wait some time on the key holders for the area businesses.

“Some people weren’t home, some people were home,” Atkinson said.

Fran Moore was in her home of almost 28 years, 2303 Roosevelt St., on Friday night. At first, she and her neighbors watched everything, talking about the leak. She said she felt sorry for the firefighters and workers dealing with the leak.

“They had to stand their ground and do their duties,” Moore said.

Eventually, her area was evacuated. All in all, she said the evacuation was not too bad, only lasting approximately 45 minutes for her.

“We just grabbed the dogs, loaded them into the kennel and went to Subway and grabbed a sandwich,” said Moore, adding they then hung out at Kwik Star until officers said it was safe to go home.

Changing winds affected the firefighters’ efforts. Atkinson said the wind shifted Friday night, causing gas to drift into the residential area in the 2200 block of North Second Street. Crews began evacuating that area, before suspending it after the gas was shut off.

Fire crews remained on scene until 10:57 p.m., after all area buildings were found to be free of natural gas.

Firefighters were called back out at 11:53 p.m., for a fire at a two-story, single-family residence. Upon arrival of the first responders, smoke and fire were found on the first floor. Atkinson confirmed that two residents were home at the time.

Crews had the fire under control within 10 minutes, but stayed on scene for several hours to check for hot spots and conduct the investigation. The cause of the fire is still unknown at this time.

No one was injured in the fire. The estimated loss is $60,000.