Gas smell stumps investigators in Old Town March 6
The cause of a gas smell in Old Colorado City around 2:30 p.m. March 6 remained a mystery this week.
The Colorado Springs Fire Department closed off Colorado Avenue and evacuated people between 25th and 26th streets for about an hour after reports of a gas odor in that area. Responding were trucks from Fire Station 5 and 1, Squad 108 (a rescue unit from the department's Printers Parkway headquarters), Station 14 (hazardous materials), police and Colorado Springs Utilities with some “pretty sophisticated sniffing equipment,” said Lt. Rick Schmidt, representing Station 5, who was in charge of the scene.
But in the end, “we don't know for sure” what the cause was, he said. Investigators turned up two main possibilities, neither of which was a leak in any of the shops. “It could have been a block away to the south, where a company was pumping a septic tank, or it could have been the Utilities natural gas system being overpressurized and releasing gas.” Schmidt said the latter idea came from City Utilities, based on reports from a couple of business owners that they had heard a “hissing noise” from beneath their floors.
In any case, the smell was “very strong” when firefighters arrived but dissipated within about 15 minutes, Schmidt said.
He added that he decided it was better to be extra safe by closing off the avenue. (There was no sign of panic - in one shop, a merchant even made a sale before a police officer informed him and his customers they really needed to evacuate.)
In the back of Schmidt's mind was a gas leak in an older part of Pueblo last fall that had leveled a building and killed two people. “I didn't want to be known as the guy who blew up Old Colorado City,” the fire officer commented.
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