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Kevin Bonham, Forum Communications, Published December 26 2012

Downtown Grand Forks buildings evacuated after gas leak

GRAND FORKS - A portion of downtown here was evacuated this morning after a natural gas leak was discovered in an alley behind The Hub Bar.

The call was reported at 10:27 a.m.

Gas has been shut off to area buildings, as crews from Xcel Energy work to repair the line. The repairs are expected to be completed later today, according to Paul Durbin, Xcel field operations supervisor.

“We’ve got it pinpointed. We just need to get through the concrete,” he said. “We don’t believe there’s going to be any problem. We’ve got the situation under control.”

A portion of North Third Street was closed to traffic.

Grand Forks Fire Department advised occupants of adjacent buildings to evacuate voluntarily, according to Chad Cutshaw, battalion chief. Included in the advisory were buildings occupied by The Hub, CPS Ltd, Border States Trophy and Awards.

“We had a fairly significant gas build-up in the basement of The Hub,” Cutshaw said, adding that while the risk of an explosion was low, the potential existed. “Right now, we’re ventilating the building to keep the gas level at an acceptable range.”

The advisory evacuation was expected to end as soon as Xcel completes repairs and reopens the alley.