Ashland gas main leak closes nearby streets and stores

Ashland, Ore. — Parts of Ashland closed down this morning after a gas main leak.

While the incident caused some frustration, police say it was a good opportunity to find out how well its new alert app worked.

Ashland Police have been using the app for a month and they say it’s been a great way to communicate with the public.

Today they received a few ‘thank yous’ from the community after directing the app-users to other streets during the gas leak.

“Well it’s been an interesting morning,” Lisa Afshar said.

When co-owner Lisa Afshar of The Book Exchange opened the shop Wednesday morning, she wasn’t expecting she’d have to close everything less than an hour later.

“The chief just said ‘nope… just leave… don’t turn anything off.’ So I just had to make sure all the customers were out of the store and locked the door and left,” Afshar said.

Crews were working to fix a gas leak from an old 6-inch pipe off Lithia Way and 1st Street.

“I know that it’s one of the old original pipes that was made when they first laid in natural gas through the city here,” Battalion Chief Kelly Burns said.

Battalion Chief Kelly Burns with Ashland Fire and Rescue says they had to set up a safety perimeter because gas leaks can be dangerous.

“You could smell natural gas… and they had me standing across the street on the corner and you know they had a charged one-and-a-half inch line ready to extinguish any fires and so it was a little concerning,” Afshar said.

Concerning… but in the end nothing serious.

Still, people who needed to know about the leak did… thanks to the Police Department’s new app.

“A notification that went out to everybody,” Deputy Police Chief Warren Hensman said.

Wednesday’s alert was the first the department sent out.

Deputy Police Chief Warren Hensman says it helped the community know what to expect.

“Work crews with Avista gas were trying to fix a dangerous problem and so the more people we can keep out of the area while they figure out a solution to the problem just aids the safety overall within the community,” Deputy Chief Warren Hensman said.

As for Afshar, she’s simply thankful the leak didn’t escalate into anything more dramatic.

“It was just a couple hours of lost business and inconvenience, but everybody is everything’s safe and everybody’s okay,” Afshar said.

You can download the app for free by searching for “Ashland Oregon Police” in the app store.

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