Gas line breaks along U.S. 70

By Marlena Hartz: Freedom Newspapers

A labyrinth of cable and telephone wires hampered work Wednesday on a broken natural gas line along U.S. 70, according to officials.

Attempts to cork the gas leak on the PNM line on Kimberly Drive stretched into the evening. By 8 p.m. Wednesday, the gas leak had been sealed, according to PNM officials.

No injuries resulted from the incident, officials said. An estimated six homes were left without gas service Wednesday as a result of the leak, but no evacuations were ordered, according to PNM officials.

As a safety precaution, state police restricted traffic on the highway near the leak, according to Lt. Rick Anglada, New Mexico State Police Department public information officer. The four-lane highway was reduced to two lanes, with single lanes for southbound and northbound traffic, he said.

“Any kind of ignition source could have caused a spark and an explosion,” Anglada said.

The ruptured line was a conduit for four other gas lines, PNM spokeswoman Susan Sponar said. All but one of the connecting lines had been shut off early Wednesday morning, but wires near the last kept workers busy, she said.

The line — 4 inches in diameter, running 4 1/2 feet underground — was ruptured around 10 a.m. Wednesday morning by Vis-Com employees, according to PNM officials.

Vis-Com Vice President Sarah Lucero said her employees were working on water lines when the gas line broke. Vis-Com is an Albuquerque-based company.

She said the gas line was unmarked.

Further investigation would be needed to determine if the line was indeed unmarked, Sponar said.

Sponar said the amount of gas that escaped from the line was minimal. However, she said the exact amount that escaped would be unknown until Thursday. She said the line should be repaired sometime Thursday.

PNM is New Mexico’s largest electricity and natural gas provider, according to PNM’s Web site, www.pnm.com.

The company provides natural gas to more than 480,000 customers and electricity to more than 425,000 customers in about 100 New Mexico communities, the Web site indicates.