Workers broke a natural gas line Wednesday morning at a condominium construction site while digging a storm drain with a backhoe, which forced a stretch of Scottsdale Road to be closed for more than two hours.
At 10:25 a.m., firefighters from Scottsdale, Tempe and Phoenix responded to the Optima Camel View condominium construction site at the northwest corner of Highland Drive and Scottsdale Road. Natural gas was streaming into the air, spreading the smell of mercaptan — the chemical added to give the odorless gas a scent — for blocks.
Scottsdale Road was closed between Camelback and Chaparral roads by 10:30 a.m. and two nearby buildings were evacuated, said Scottsdale Fire Battalion Chief Jay Ducote. About 18 people were evacuated, said fire department spokesman Dave Cieslak.
The road was reopened shortly before 1 p.m. after Southwest Gas workers, dressed in neon orange and yellow hazard suits, crimped off the gas flow.
Despite the evacuations, Tempe fire Capt. Bob Matthews said the leak posed a serious threat only if the gas ignited, and then only to those directly beside it.