Gas Leak Forces Evacuation of City Block in Reno

A natural gas leak in downtown Reno forced the evacuation of a city block for more than an hour today, including the Washoe County court complex and Reno City Hall.

Two construction workers were stranded on a six-story high boom
for about 45 minutes because it was not safe to start a motor needed to bring them down, but no injuries were reported.

The leak was reported just before 11:30 am at the construction site of a high-rise condominium at the corner of First and Sierra streets just north of the Truckee river, two blocks north of the court complex.

Police evacuated an entire block around the area and closed all street traffic within two blocks of the leak until the main gas line could be turned off.

City spokesman Chris Good says the leak was caused by construction work that damaged a four-inch underground pipe.

Reno Fire incident commander Jeffery rank commended law officers
for the quick response.

Good says the fire department was in contact with the stranded workers via cell phone and was preparing rescue them from the roof
with ropes but that Sierra Pacific employees were able to shut off the gas leak just after noon.

Good says lowering the boom with the workers would have required
starting an internal combustion motor, which could have ignited the gas.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)