Gas leak shuts down Dickinson restaurant, street for 2½ hours

Montana-Dakota Utilities workers dig a hole in an attempt to shut off a natural gas line Wednesday in the El Sombrero Mexican Restaurant parking lot in north Dickinson.
Montana-Dakota Utilities workers dig a hole in an attempt to shut off a natural gas line Wednesday in the El Sombrero Mexican Restaurant parking lot in north Dickinson.

A popular Dickinson lunchtime restaurant was evacuated shortly after noon Wednesday and part of a busy street was blocked off as a precaution for about 2½ hours after a contractor struck a gas line near the corner of 15th Street West and Elks Drive.

El Sombrero Mexican Restaurant was evacuated and part of 15th Street West south of Prairie Hills Mall was blocked off by law enforcement after the line was inadvertently struck by a contractor with Denny’s Electric who was attempting to service an electric line.

Montana-Dakota Utilities spokesperson Mark Hanson said at 2:45 p.m. that the blowing gas had been shut off and the two-inch plastic line has been looped and repairs were underway in the El Sombrero parking lot. The gas had been blowing since about noon. No customers lost service because of the line break, however.

Adriana Aguirre, whose family runs El Sombrero, said the restaurant reopened at about 2:40 p.m., Aguirre said. The street was reopened to traffi c at 2:30 p.m., police said.

Danny Haller, vice president of Denny’s Electric, said the gas line was struck by one of their crews but said an employee with ELM Locating & Utility Services had mismarked the line’s location. ELM had no comment about the incident when reached Wednesday.

Haller said the electric lines were located, but that the locating service was at least “eight feet off the mark” with the gas line, which he said led to it being struck.

“I don’t know what happened, but they were that far off,” Haller said.

Aguirre said El Sombrero was full when police and fi re offi cials came in and told them they needed to evacuate because the gas was drifting toward the building. El Sombrero reopened at about 2:40 p.m., Aguirre said.

Dickinson Fire Chief Bob Sivak said the explosive limits for the gas were at zero, thanks mostly to a strong west wind. Employees at the Comfort Inn, to the south of El Sombrero, said they experienced minor inconveniences due to the line break and were mostly affected by the street closure. The Dickinson Fire and Police departments assisted MDU and provided traffi c control through the duration of the incident.

Author: Dustin Monke

Former newspaper editor. Now I market the best baked goods and donuts in America. But every once in a while, I write a cool story too.

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