WILLCOX — Monday, April 8, was disrupted as a gas leak led to the evacuation of homes.

The gas leak was located in the area near Austin and Wasson streets in Willcox. A 2-inch plastic gas pipeline was punctured, causing the gas to escape at 9:20 a.m. The police and fire departments were called to the scene, notifying residents in the area to evacuate their homes.

The Willcox Public Works Department was called to shut off the gas valves. By 10:15 a.m., residents were given the go-ahead to return to their homes.

The leak, located directly on the southwest corner of Austin and Wasson, was caused when a Willcox City Streets worker punctured it accidentally with a backhoe. The Range News contacted the Public Works Department and spoke to Director Galo “Nalo” Galovale regarding the incident.

Galovale told the Range News it was because of soil conditions in the City of Willcox that the road crew were digging so deeply as to disturb the pipe. Also, the markings depicting the gas line’s location were slightly off. It was due to these conditions the crew hit the pipe.

“We were able to shut off the valve, make the repair, get it tested and get all 18 homes that were shut down (the gas to the homes that were turned off) back on. There were a few homes, maybe two or three homes, that were left off because the homeowner wasn’t in the home,” Galovale said. “Normally we don’t do turn-ons, for gas. But in this case, the situation was on our side and not the customer’s fault. We were the ones that caused the turn-off. The guys were able to respond, nobody was hurt, and everything was taken care of in the end.”

Before having individuals return to the affected neighborhood, the Public Works Department tested the pipe that was patched for additional leaks. To effectively fix the leak, 5 feet of the pipe was replaced.

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