Clarion residents evacuated after natural gas line is struck

Region V Hazardous Materials Response Team was dispatched

CLARION — Multiple people were forced to evacuate their homes and businesses Wednesday afternoon after a natural gas line was struck a couple blocks west of the Wright County Courthouse in Clarion, according to Capt. Jim Lester, of the Wright County Sheriff’s Department.

No injuries were reported.

The gas line was struck at about 3:30 p.m. in the 100 block of Second Street Northwest.

Lester, who is also the county’s emergency management coordinator, said a crew burying a fiber optic cable struck the line.

Detours were set up and traffic had to be rerouted on Iowa Highway 3 through Clarion, Lester reported.

The Wright County Courthouse closed early, he said.

The Region V Hazardous Materials Response Team, headquartered at the Fort Dodge Fire Department, was dispatched at about 4 p.m.

Upon arrival, firefighters found a 4-inch, high pressure gas main leak, according to Fort Dodge Fire Chief Steve Hergenreter.

“It was a very large release going on,” he said. “Our role was to use our gas detection to find out where was safe and unsafe levels.”

Hergenreter said people were able to smell the gas up to about seven blocks away.

“There was very strong winds out of the northwest,” he said.

About a two-block area downwind was designated as the hot zone.

The hot zone is the area determined to be most dangerous. That section was closed off by officials.

“We were very conservative,” Hergenreter said.

The hazardous materials team stayed on site for a couple of hours for air monitoring, he said.

MidAmerican Energy Co. was on scene and made the necessary repairs by 2 a.m.

Roads were reopened to traffic at that time.

The Wright County Sheriff’s Department, Clarion Fire Department, Clarion Police Department, Clarion Ambulance Service, Clarion Public Works, Wright County emergency management, Wright County secondary roads, the Iowa State Patrol, the Iowa Department of Transportation, the Region V Hazardous Materials Response Team, and MidAmerican Energy Co. were on scene.