Businesses in downtown Wiggins return after gas leak forces many to evacuate

The gas leak was identified and businesses are now being allowed to return.

Businesses in downtown Wiggins return after gas leak forces many to evacuate

WIGGINS, Miss. (WLOX) - Employees that work in downtown Wiggins are now able to return to their businesses after a gas leak forced an evacuation Thursday morning.

Evacuations were ordered for all businesses located between First and Second Streets from East Hatten Avenue to East Cavers Avenue. Shortly after 12 p.m., Wiggins Fire Chief Jody Hatten said the businesses were given the all-clear to return.

Scott Maddox thought he was going to have a normal day at his business, The Coffee Shop at Southern Turnings.

“We’re a safe haven for people to come and communicate.” said Maddox.

But what he didn’t expect was a certain smell in his shop.

“It’s like a rotten egg,” said Maddox. “They put that chemical in the gas for a reason, but it did its job”

According to the fire chief, business owners began smelling gas shortly after opening around 8 a.m. Thursday. Centerpoint Energy was notified and, once on the scene, found gas in the sewer lines of the business district.

Included in the businesses that had to evacuate were an adult daycare with six people inside, at least one restaurant, several government building, and several private businesses.

Hatten said the evacuation was ordered as a precaution because, at the time, they were not sure where the leak was coming from or what was causing it. However, they quickly found the leak on College Avenue behind City Hall.

“We had a gas line that started leaking,” said Hatten. “Apparently, we had a crack in our sewer line, or a puncture in our sewer line that was letting the gas in. So, the gas was going through the sewer lines into different businesses.”

The gas was coming out so fast, you could see it coming up in the dirt, said Hatten. But first responders figured out where the leak was coming from in a matter of minutes.

“Usually, it’s very hard to pinpoint. All I can say is we got very lucky. It was a big leak, so you can actually see the gas coming through the ground. Because the ground was so wet you could see air bubbles.” said Hatten.

Maddox said even though his business was closed for a few hours it was the right thing to do.

“I didn’t want to evacuate, I didn’t want to shut my business down, but safety comes first.” said Maddox.

Maddox said if firefighters give you instructions, then follow their orders.

“You can ask the questions later, you know, why you had to or this and that. But these folks are looking out for our safety and wellbeing. It’s not a time to argue with them.” said Maddox.

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