Local News

Gas line rupture prompts evacuations in Apex

Posted December 9, 2013 11:25 a.m. EST
Updated December 9, 2013 3:40 p.m. EST

— Authorities evacuated areas around Dixie Pipeline Co. in Apex after a 2-inch gas line ruptured Monday morning, Apex police said.

The gas leak was capped within an hour, authorities said, and no one was injured.

N.C. Highway 55, from Technology Drive to U.S. Highway 1, was closed in both directions shortly after 11 a.m. and remained blocked for about an hour, causing heavy traffic delays.

Apex police Capt. Ann Stephens said Ready Mix Concrete, Waffle House, Puryear Trucking, Bojangles and VCA Apex Animal Hospital were evacuated as a precaution. She said people at Comfort Inn – a block away from the facility on East Williams Street – were told to “shelter in place.”

Chuck Bolibaugh owns a Subway sandwich shop next door to the company. He shuttered his store when police told him to go.

"We've never been through this type of thing before," he said. "They say 'gas leak' and you get a little iffy. But for the most part, it was all right."

For Apex Fire Chief Mark Haraway, the incident triggered memories of October 2006, when the Environmental Quality Industrial Services facility erupted into a fireball, and officials ordered about 17,000 people to evacuate because they feared that toxic chemicals were in the plume of smoke that spread over Apex.

"You know you can't help but think about it," Haraway said.

The 2-inch pipe break at Dixie paled in comparison, but Haraway said authorities have learned from that experience.

"We have a plan in place," he said. "It's a plan we practice twice a year with the facility and their personnel."

Stephens said the cause of the gas leak remains under investigation.

Dixie's terminal in Apex houses a larger, 12-inch pipeline that runs north from Texas and supplies propane to seven states. The terminal was shut down in November 2007 after that line ruptured in Carmichael, Miss., causing an explosion that killed two people.