Gas leak forces hundreds from East Chicago homes

January 27, 2011 9:17:13 AM PST
A gas leak forced hundreds of people from their homes in northwest Indiana Thursday morning.

The leak forced dozens of families out into the cold in East Chicago, Indiana. Some had to spend the morning at a warming center. By late Thursday morning they were let back into their homes.

It started late Wednesday night. The strong smell of a gas leak from an underground main in East Chicago near 145th and Magoun prompted the fire department to evacuate a four-block area around the leak while crews try to repair the problem.

Nearby Harrison Elementary School, 4411 Magoun Ave., canceled classes Thursday.

Other high school students missed school because they were up all night at a warming center near city hall.

"They took care of us, gave us a place to sleep, something to eat. It wasn't so bad," said evacuated resident Jose Rosario, who got the day off school Thursday.

"It's not good for me, but yeah, I have to call off work today, which I don't like to do that, but hey. We couldn't do anything, nothing," said evacuated resident Maria Rosario.

Northern Indiana Public Service Company, or NIPSO, dug into the frozen ground and shut the gas line off at 8 a.m. Thursday morning to begin making repairs. Gas had to be shut off to about 20 homes.

Gas company workers said they would go door to door and relight pilot lights for residents when service is restored Thursday.

"It's crazy what's happening," said evacuated resident Daniel Campos. "Just out of nowhere-- just, I'm in my room watching TV, the cops knock on the door, and they told us we had to evacuate, the cement is being pushed up, and we had to go to Heritage Hall or McDonald's."

A gas company representative said at least 20 homes were still without gas as of 11 a.m. He expects everything to be back to normal by the end of the day.