Gas main catches fire during storm in Lyons

July 19, 2012 7:41:12 PM PDT
Overnight storms are blamed for snapping a power line that ignited a fire early Thursday in southwest suburban Lyons.

The fire erupted early Thursday morning, sending flames close to 12 feet in the air.

"Amazing. I can't believe it. It's like, wow," said Lyons resident Latasha Stricklan.

The blaze began after severe storms rolled through southwest suburban Lyons overnight. That's when high winds and lightening possibly snapped a power line, which ignited a gas leak and then a fire.

Around the Chicago area, the storms left about 120,000 ComEd customers without power by midnight Wednesday night.

Just before 10 p.m. Thursday, only about 8,500 customers still lack electricity.

Fire chief Gordon Nord was responding to an emergency call when he saw the skies near 43rd Street and First Avenue in Lyons light up.

"We arrived on the scene at 43rd and First Avenue and found a power line arcing and sparking," Nord said. "We secured the area and were on scene for about 15, 20 minutes. We heard a boom and then we had a gas-fed fire."

Firefighters doused the flames with water to keep the fire from spreading as utility crews worked to shut off the gas feeding the fire.

"We're going to break into the main and squeeze on either side," said Nicor's Jim Tansor. "That will take the gas out of the equation and the flames will go away."

Oone home was evacuated in the mostly commercial and industrial neighborhood where several businesses also were temporarily without their gas and electric service. No one was hurt.

"I'm going to stick around for my customers to let them know their stuff is safe," said Nancy Herter of Safeguard Self Storage.

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