East El Paso Apartment Complex, Businesses Evacuated

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POSTED: Saturday, February 5, 2011 - 9:52pm

UPDATED: Saturday, February 5, 2011 - 9:59pm

EL PASO - Today 150 people were forced out of their homes after a gas line ruptured in East El Paso. The gas leak also forced police to shut down several streets and businesses.

Police and nearly 60 firefighters worked quickly to make sure the leak didn't turn into an explosion after a 5-inch gas line ruptured in the 7800 block of Gateway East. Firefighters wet down the area around the leak, and police evacuated an entire apartment complex and several businesses. Sun Metro bussed nearly 50 people to the Convention Center to keep them out of the cold, and others turned to family and friends for help.

"We do not know what caused it. That's going to be part of our investigation," Pete Parras said.

Parras, the Public Information Officer for Texas Gas, doesn't believe the rupture is weather related. Although he admits the weather hasn't been easy on anyone.

"We've gone through some big challenges because of the weather. Right now, today, we have most of our customers up and running so there's not really an issue of somebody being without gas," he said.

Some businesses say there is an issue, not with the loss of gas services, but with losing money because of the gas leak.

"Saturday is a very busy day for us. We did have a lot of customers that had commitments and appointments. This gas leak is putting a hindrance on our business," Manny Estrada said.

Estrada works at NAPA Auto parts. He says police shut down the store because the gas line runs through it.

"We had to let go of probably 12 or 13 people [for the day]," he said.

Estrada told us the gas line rupture and the recent weather are really taking a toll on employees.

"Especially since we had that recent snow storm. That also put a hindrance on us, and a lot of the employees are coming out short on their hours already," he said.

Estrada said fewer hours means less money for employees already hit hard by the recent weather.

"We're all going to come out short on our paychecks. Hopefully things get back to business pretty soon," he said.

People evacuated because of the gas leak were expected to return home this Saturday afternoon.
 

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