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Gas leak prompts rapid response in Roberts Creek

Contractors cut pipe at co-housing complex on Nov. 1
The scene of the Nov. 1. gas leak in lower Roberts Creek

No injuries were reported after a gas leak prompted the evacuation of a housing complex in Roberts Creek earlier this week. 

Roberts Creek Volunteer Fire Department (RCVFD) responded to a call at 10:48 a.m. Nov. 1, that machinery operating in one of the Roberts Creek Cohousing complex laneways accidentally cut an underground gas line.

The contractors immediately shut down all equipment and started informing nearby residents of the leak and confirming that there were no sources of ignition, said department fire chief Pat Higgins. 

RCVFD was on-scene in minutes, knocking on doors to evacuate the area, he added. 

Higgins said that one resident of the Cohousing had a complete list of residents in the complex along with their phone numbers, which was “amazingly helpful.” 

Higgins also said that the Gibsons & District Volunteer Fire Department pumper truck was called in, it had a crew of five, and one of the GVFD’s assistant chiefs attended. “So we had very good crews standing by in case anything went wrong.”

Emergency responders were able to evacuate all residents from the area, including a few who were tricky to find, such as one resident who was still asleep.

FortisBC promptly arrived to fix the gas line, said Higgins, and asked fire crews to monitor gas concentration levels at the north end of the area.

By 11:37 a.m FortisBC confirmed that the broken pipe had been clamped off. 

Higgins confirmed there was no ignition point and said that everything went well in the response, adding that FortisBC told him there was a high level of dissipation in the leak area, which was fortunate.

“You could smell it in a very wide radius but the actual concentration of gas was dissipating quickly,” said Higgins. He said that the contractors did call FortisBC ahead of time and that accidents like this are more common in more densely built communities where there is a higher concentration of underground infrastructure in a compact space. 

Higgins said that the contractors responded to the accident admirably. “All in all, it was a well-handled scene,” he said. He included a reminder that most gas pipe ruptures are preventable, and a short phone call before you dig is always a smart idea. 

Jordan Copp is the Coast Reporter’s civic and Indigenous affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.