Columbia businesses evacuated after gas leak downtown

Sep 11, 2012

A gas leak Tuesday evening in Columbia caused emergency officials to evacuate several businesses and close down a section of Ninth Street South.

At 4:59 p.m. the Columbia Fire Department responded to reports of a gas odor outside the construction site at 308 Ninth Street South, according to James L. Weaver, public information officer with the Columbia Fire Department.

Several nearby businesses were closed including Starbucks, Chipotle and Cold Stone Creamery, Weaver said.

Several people inside Starbucks had complained of headaches. Weaver said all people refused treatment. There were no injuries reported.

Gas in the broken line was shut off by 7 p.m. 

Weaver said the broken gas line was 2-inches in diameter. Gas coming out of the broken pipe sounded like the roar of a jet engine, Weaver said.

"Gas is lighter than air, and it's going up into the atmosphere and mixing with the air," Weaver said. "It's not a hazard in that there's not a cloud of gas running around."