Homes, businesses and a local school within a 200-metre radius of a gas line break at the corner of Main and Union streets in Sackville were evacuated Monday morning shortly before 10:30 a.m.
Late Monday afternoon, Jamie Burke, senior manager of corporate projects for the Town of Sackville, explained employees with Bowser’s Construction Ltd. ruptured the gas line as part of their ongoing work on the Main Street reconstruction project.
“That caused us to go into a precautionary mode here for a fair bit of time this morning.”
Area residents were initially notified through an alert issued by the town’s Sentinel emergency alert system just before 10:30 a.m., Burke explained, adding emergency services personnel and public works employees canvassed the area to ensure affected residents were aware of the situation.
In addition to area residences, town hall, Moneris, Marshview Middle School and Ben’s Service Station were evacuated, Burke said.
Shortly after 11:30 a.m., a second Sentinel alert advised the evacuation area had been reduced to a 30-metre radius around the gas line break, as utility personnel were on site working to repair the leak, leaving only the construction site, Ben’s Service Station and a handful of residences affected.
Burke said the initial evacuation procedure was implemented without delay thanks to extensive preparation for similar situations by the Town of Sackville and local emergency services personnel.
“We have an emergency management plan. In this case we didn’t activate our full-on emergency management response plan, but when these things happen you’re always in a state of readiness, and we practice these things on table-top exercises and every three months we do a walk-through with our emergency Sentinel alert system so we are all comfortable using it to get the message out.”
Although the Sackville Memorial Hospital wasn’t closed during the initial evacuation alert, it was put on standby to evacuate if necessary. They did close their doors so people could not enter or exit the building during that time, Burke said.
In addition to the hospital, he added, the local RCMP detachment, Ambulance New Brunswick, the school district and Mount Allison were constantly kept apprised of the ongoing situation.
During the evacuation, Burke said, the Tantramar Veterans Memorial Civic Centre was made available as an emergency shelter, if needed, adding about 50 to 65 people took shelter there.
The gas line was repaired at approximately 9 p.m. Monday evening.