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Gas leak cuts service to 450 homes


For the third time this winter, a gas leak has resulted in the evacuation of sections of Fort Frances and loss of service to others.

On Thursday around 1:10 p.m., emergency personnel responded to a gas leak at the corner of Williams Avenue and Fifth Street East.

Police and emergency personnel cordoned off the areas of Fifth Street between Minnie Avenue and Colonization Road East, Williams Avenue between Third Street East and Sixth Street East, and Fourth Street East between Williams Avenue and Minnie Avenue.

Officials then evacuated Huffman School for the rest of the day. Police report it took place without incident.

“All those students were safely transferred to Robert Moore School,” said Fort Frances OPP Cst. Paul Davis.

In addition, residents in the affected area were asked to refrain from returning to their homes until further notice. Fire officials reported Union Gas shut off service surrounding the area until Friday morning, leaving some residents without heat overnight.

“Approximately 450 homes in the east end [of Fort Frances] and on the Couchiching reserve were cut off around 5:30 p.m.,” Fort Frances Fire Chief Steve Richardson noted.

“Consequently, we set up an evacuation and reception centre at the Memorial Sports Centre, but nobody had to use it,” he added.

The leak was repaired early Friday morning and the gas was turned back on. However, it was several hours before all affected residences had their service restored.

“Now Union Gas [has] to go around and light up the pilot lights in the affected area,” Chief Richardson explained.

The cause of the leak had not been determined at press time, but it is not believed to be weather-related. There are reports a town crew was working in the area at the time.

“I know our department is doing an investigation, but at the moment we don’t know what happened,” said Superintendent of Operations Raymond Roy.

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