Residents of two Nevada assisted living facilities were evacuated last Wednesday, July 17, due to a natural gas leak.
Rolling Green Village Care Center and Indian Creek Independent and Assisted Living evacuated 85 residents during the afternoon heat, said Nevada Fire Chief Dana Wipperman.
At 2:21 p.m., Nevada Fire and Rescue received a call indicating that a Rolling Green corporate maintenance worker had broken a two-inch natural gas pipeline on the north side of Rolling Green Village, near where the two facilities connect. He had been digging with a backhoe in preparation to pour concrete where a maintenance shed will be built, Wipperman said.
The break in the gas line occurred 10 to 12 feet from a door to the basement, and the worker immediately alerted the facilities’ maintenance director, who answered that door. A call to 911 was made immediately.
Wipperman said that due to concerns of a possible natural gas odor inside the facilities, residents were evacuated to the nearby Nevada McFarland Clinic and Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
The gas leak outside could have breached the structure of the two facilities, creating a possibility for ignition inside the buildings, which contain many heat sources.
Alliant Energy arrived on the scene to crimp the gas line, and the leak was stopped by 3:08 p.m. Nevada fire crews then used gas meters to check the air quality inside the facilities.
"We received no high levels of gas inside the structures, and the residents were allowed back in probably within an hour," Wipperman said. After Alliant Energy said it was safe to do so, the emergency crews and facility staff worked to move residents back inside.
The major concern, other than the possibilities of fire and inhaled natural gas, was getting residents out of the 95-degree heat and 40-percent humidity. "With the heat and humidity and all the folks out there that might not be accustomed to that, it was very, very critical to get them in out of the heat," Wipperman said. "Rolling Green and Indian Creek staff did a great job; that’s one thing I didn’t have to worry about. They had it essentially done not long after we first arrived, so they worked out perfectly."
Nine members of Nevada Fire and Rescue responded to aid in the evacuation, as well as a Story County ambulance with two responders.
"We cleared in right about two hours. There was a lot of stuff going on pretty quickly, but a lot of good teamwork," Wipperman said. "It could have been a very bad situation, but it worked out well because everybody worked together."