UPDATE: Gas leak cause of closure on Highway 3 in Grand Forks
UPDATE: The Yale bridge and Highway 3 were opened back up to traffic by 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 15.
The two inch gas line that was severed by a contractor who was constructing a sign located beside the east entrance of the Omega Restaurant caused a natural gas leak in the area.
When the leak first happened there was no wind, said Grand Forks Fire Rescue chief Dale Heriot.
“But then a breeze came up and it was evident to the crew that they needed to evacuate Johnny’s Motel, the Riverside Motel, the Omega Restaurant and residents along Granby Road up to and some of Valley Heights Road to be on the safe side,” said Heriot.
The leak was fixed and everyone was allowed to return to their businesses and homes by 12:30 p.m.
Three businesses have been evacuated and Highway 3 closed off by the Yale Bridge thanks to a natural gas leak in the area that was caused by a “third party” according to FortisBC spokesperson Tracy Tang.
The Grand Forks Fire Rescue is on scene to monitor the situation and to redirect traffic traveling on Highway 3 to take the alternative route across the bridge on 68th Avenue, just east of the Yale Bridge.
A technician from Fortis BC is on scene assessing the situation and to make repairs, said Tang.
It is unknown how many residences and businesses are affected by the outage at this time, however the Grand Forks Fire Department has evacuated the Riverside Motel, the Omega Restaurant and Johnny’s Motel for safety reasons.
Both the Imperial Hotel and Happy Days Donuts on the other side of the Granby River have not been evacuated at this time.
“It’s one of those situations where someone shouldn’t have been digging where they were digging,” said Leanna Byrd, owner of Happy Days Donuts. She said she heard it was a backhoe that broke into the line, but FortisBC can’t confirm that right now.
The staff from the Omega and the owner of Johnny’s Motel have been hanging out at Happy Days until they’ll be allowed to return. Byrd is grateful she didn’t have to close today because her business is fast becoming a popular tourist attraction in Grand Forks.
“All the staff from the Omega have been here. I also had a supplier who was parked at the Omega and now can’t go back and start up his car (because of the leak),” said Byrd.
Tang said it is best during a leak to allow the gas to escape into the atmosphere, rather than be contained within a small area. Which is what is happening right now, hence the need to evacuate the area and to disallow vehicles from traveling up Granby Road.
The closure may go on for several more hours. Tang said after the leak is repaired, technicians will be going around and relighting customer’s gas appliances. Please watch our site for updates.