Calling 811 before digging can save hitting a gas line |

Calling 811 before digging can save hitting a gas line

Staff Reports
A trencher sits where it struck a 3-inch gas line that forced evacuation of two of Redwood Circle's condos and a handful of homes on Manhattan and Kingston on April 4.
Kurt Hildebrand

East Fork firefighters clamped off a half-dozen gas line breaks over the course of 30 days.

Outdoor projects have resulted in an unusually high number of natural gas line breaks throughout the Carson Valley, according to East Fork Hazardous Materials Technician Nick Summers.

“These incidents have ranged from fence-hole digging, sprinkler-line repair, to heavy-equipment trench-digging,” said Summers, who started the East Fork Fire Protection District’s clamping project. “East Fork works in cooperation with Southwest Gas to mitigate these emergencies.”

He said that fire engines carry the same tool that South Gas workers use to close lines of an inch or smaller.

That allows firefighters to clamp a line before the gas company arrives.

Lines larger than an inch require firefighters to clear the area, evacuate homes and wait for gas company personnel.

“If you are digging and suspect you may have ruptured a gas line, immediately leave the area and call 911,” Summer said. “Do not try and clamp the line yourself or fill in the hole.”

Anyone planning on digging on their property should use the free 811 service two days ahead of time.

The 811 “call before you dig” number is a nationwide service to help homeowners and contractors identify underground utilities and have them marked prior to digging.

“Whether you’re homeowner planting trees or a contractor building a fence or addition, or phone number 811 is a must do first step,” Summers said. “A homeowner or contractor can call 2-3 days before the project is starting. All existing gas, electric, cable, water, etc underground utilities will then be marked out. Then you can dig confidently knowing there is no risk of hitting an underground utility line.”