Gas Pipe Breaks a Little Too Close for Comfort

By Alex Geli –

It was just an ordinary day in the life of Angie Stikalitis as she was just doing her job as a math teacher at Penn Manor High School, when things took a very unexpected turn for the worse.

“I’m in the middle of teaching AP Calc B/C, (Officer Jason Hottenstein) calls me out,” Stikalitis said. Then she heard the three words she was definitely not expecting.

“Don’t panic, but…” Hottenstein explained what had happened around her home.

“There’s a problem at your house,” he said. After seeing her “completely wig out,” as he called it, he made sure to add, “your house is still there.”

He continued and told her as much as he could, but said, “I’m not there right now, but they need you.”

A UGI truck ready for action at the scene of the gas leak. Photo by Kendal Phillips

“That’s all she had to hear,” Hottenstein said.

On Monday, the old natural gas pipes under Landis Avenue in Millersville gave out and released gas into the homes just a mere two minutes from the high school. A Red Rose Transit bus evacuated the affected people living in “six to eight homes,” Detective Howard Bauman said, to the Millersville Fire Hall.

From approximately 7:36 a.m. until they were notified from the fire department that they could return, the 11 total evacuated citizens were left homeless. All of this right after a similar incident on a larger scale in Allentown which resulted in not even homes lost, but also lives.

Bauman said that there were seven mile-per-hour winds which made it difficult to pinpoint where the leak had occurred.

“They thought it might (have been) from (Stikalitis’) house,” Hottenstein said.

The leak was found, not in Stikalitis’ home, by UGI workers who “tapped a hole in the ground and put a sensor in,” Bauman said. When the hole was “tapped,” smoke and gas fumed out for “a minute until they shut the gas source off,” he said.

The hole that workers dug out to turn the gas off after a cloud of gas was steadily spewing out. Photo by Alex Geli

“They definitely didn’t light up their cigarette (at that time),” Bauman joked.

The homes that were contaminated with the gas were ventilated and Bauman added, “they won’t return to their homes until (UGI) makes sure (it’s safe).”

To make sure the homes are safe, UGI workers along with 20-25 firemen took the necessary precautions.

“UGI (made) sure they (went) into the homes” and checked if there were any further complications that the home owners had to deal with, Bauman said.

After her home got checked, “they gave me my keys back and let me come back (to school),” Stikalitis said.

“People are a lot more concerned because of Allentown,” Bauman said about the previous gas pipe incident.

In Allentown, a massive explosion was the result of an 83-year old cast iron gas main coming to the end of its run. The pipe didn’t go into the afterlife alone as it took along five other lives with it. Two of them were an elderly couple, Beatrice, 74, and William Hall, 79.

Bauman, though, assured the residents of Millersville that it wasn’t a repeat of Allentown by any means.

“Nobody was harmed and there was no damage done,” he said.

Taking into account one other thing, he added, “except for digging into somebody’s yard.”

Comments

  1. Alex Geli,

    I was glad to read your article about “Gas Pipe Breaks…”

    You should know that natural gas leaking from old cracked pipes is killing our street trees by the thousands.

    Seeing this dead vegetation is like the “canary in the coal mine” that warns of leaks that may be too small too smell. Small leaks are either unknown or ignored by natural gas providers. They become big and then may cause explosions.

    Please visit our web site: http://www.gasleakskilltrees.org to learn about the silent killer of trees and what is being done about it in the Boston, MA area.

    If you wish to do a story about this important subkect, feel free to contact me.

    Barbara Schubert
    barbara@gasleakskilltrees.org
    301-785-3319