Gas leak sparks evacuation in northwest Gainesville

NW 23rd Avenue sign
A long-awaited road project on NW 23rd Avenue has now begun.
Courtesy of Alachua County

A major gas leak in northwest Gainesville sparked evacuation of two houses and a “shelter in place” order to residents in a quarter-mile radius of the leak.

The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office sent out a reverse 911 call at 1:53 p.m. Wednesday to warn residents of the danger.

“There has been a major gas line leak at NW 59th Ter / NW 23rd Av,” the message said. “If you receive this message please shelter in place inside your home. We have crews on scene along with GRU Utilities.

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Kevin Rulapaugh, battalion chief with Alachua County Fire Rescue (ACFR) said the incident occurred in the 5900 block of NW 23rd Avenue.

“A 3-inch gas line that had been struck and was actively leaking,” Rulapaugh said in a phone interview at 2:30 p.m. “GRU just clamped the line.”

Rulapaugh said about 45 minutes elapsed from the time ACFR received the call until the time the line was clamped.

“They should have services turned back on in the next couple of hours,” he said. “There is no further hazard to the citizens.”
The county began a $9.4 million construction project on NW 23rd Avenue last week, but that was not the cause of the accident. GRU spokesman David Warm said a fiber company hit a gas line, which caused the issue.

In the past six months, Alachua County has banned two fiber installation subcontractors due to not following county rules.

— With reporting from Seth Johnson

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the cause of the gas leak.

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