Things went from bad to worse for an crew replacing AmerenUE gas lines Tuesday on Main Street between Broadway and Themis Street in Cape Girardeau.
An AmerenUE worker at the scene said heavy equipment cut an unmarked water main. In the process of trying to repair the water main, another crew cut through a four-inch, cast iron gas line. As water gushed down Main Street at dusk, the pungent smell of natural gas began to fill the air.
Cape Girardeau Fire Department workers were on Themis making an educational video about fire equipment. Battalion chief Steve Niswonger said the firefighters smelled the natural gas, and he walked around the corner to investigate. AmerenUE already was on the scene and the gas leak was contained.
Niswonger said AmerenUE took proper precautions, checking nearby businesses for the level of natural gas inside buildings. It was not necessary to evacuate the neighborhood.
AmerenUE will replace the iron gas mains between Independence Street and Broadway with new polyethylene plastic mains as part of a routine upgrading of the system.