• UPDATE: Cole Road natural gas line repaired




    UPDATE: By 2 p.m., Intermountain Gas reported that repairs to the natural gas line ruptured Wednesday morning had been completed.

    A lightning storm in the area where a natural gas line was apparently ruptured Wednesday morning by a backhoe operator has led officials to turn off electricity to 1,600 customers of Idaho Power in the Cole Road and Mountain View area.

    The action was taken as a precaution, said Byron Defenbach, spokesman for Intermountain Gas, whose crews are working to repair the broken 4-inch plastic main at the southwest corner of the intersection east of Capital High School.

    "We hope it's a short-term outage," Defenbach said.

    Signal lights were turned off earlier to lessen the potential danger and nearby residents were asked to avoid starting their cars to prevent speaks that could ignite any gas in the air.

    Traffic was restricted in the area after the leak occurred between 8:30 and 9 a.m. Roads closed are northbound Cole Road at Ustick, Mountain View at Clement, and Mountain View at Glenwood.

    Officials estimate it could take one to two hours to repair the line. The line was ruptured between 8:30 and 9 a.m., Intermountain Gas spokesman Byron Defenbach said.

    Two homes have been evacuated and residents of other nearby homes have been alerted in case more homes need to be emptied.

    It appears a backhoe operator inadvertently struck a gas main while digging at Cole and Mountain View, police said.

    The line that was struck was a 4-inch plastic main that operates at 55 pounds of pressure, Defenbach said. The line supplies gas to branch lines that go directly to homes.

    Homeowners and contractors are required to call 811 48 hours before digging to allow a utility locator come to the property and mark on top of the ground the location of gas, water and other utility lines.

    Defenbach did not know whether a locator had been out to that property before the digging took place.

    "Everyone is supposed to call, including moms and dads digging to plant a rose bush to commercial projects," he said.

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