Bushland Pipeline Gas Leak Leaves Residents Concerned - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Bushland Pipeline Gas Leak Leaves Residents Concerned

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Amarillo, TX - More than 100 Bushland residents were evacuated from their homes early this morning when lightning struck a natural gas pipeline.

Residents say they awoke to what sounded like a loud whirling pattern of wind and were evacuated from their homes in the Prairie West housing development.

Some say the first thing that came to mind was "It's happening again."

Back in 2009 an El Paso natural gas pipeline explosion affected many homes in that area.

That pipeline has since been moved, but the Atmos Energy pipe still remains.

After a round of storms came through the area, lightning struck the line, spewing gas into the air.

Atmos Energy's, Roy Urrutia, said the lightning struck a 25 ft. antenna, which traveled down into the pipeline's system.

He said after investigating the area, his crew found everything had been damaged.

According to Urrutia the relief valve was opened, which is a safety mechanism to keep the system from over pressurizing.    

Residents were evacuated to Bushland High School then later to the middle school.

Homeowners said with the neighborhood growing so close to the pipeline, they worry events like the explosion in 2009 and the gas leak early this morning are a danger to their community.

Gary Bell, who witnessed the loud gas leak, said he believes the pipeline's location concerns everyone that lives nearby.

However, Urrutia said the pipeline has always been in the same location, before the neighborhood even existed.

It is unknown why the neighborhood continues to expand closer to the line, yet Urrutia said Atmos Energy always stresses to its customers or anyone in the general public to call the company or 911 if they smell an unfamiliar odor or suspect they hear something.

Urrutia said no homes went without gas during this leak because of back up lines used for these situations.

Power was shut off to avoid igniting fumes and was restored by 7 a.m., while everyone was allowed to return to their homes.