Gas leaks may be 'common occurrence' as Google digs around KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Brookside residents are back in their homes the day after a gas leak forced people in 26 homes to evacuate. On Thursday, the digging continued.

The gas leak was reported after 8 p.m. Wednesday night, but the problem started much earlier than that.

Subcontractor West Shore Group was digging in the 6300 block of Pennsylvania Avenue on behalf of Atlantic Engineering Group, which is working on the Google Fiber network. On Wednesday morning, West Shore Group hit an AT&T phone line. AT&T called in Howco Utilities, which hit the gas line that night.

"We came outside when all the fire trucks and emergency vehicles (showed up). I think I counted 11 of them," Brookside resident Bob Jump said.

RELATED | Natural gas leak prompts evacuation of entire block in Brookside http://bit.ly/14wQQ25

Residents were evacuated for at least two hours as MGE crews worked to cap the leak.

"I think that it will continue to be a common occurrence," said Battalion Chief James Garrett, with the Kansas City Fire Department.

That's because as Google continues to dig its fiber optic lines, the company will be working in neighborhoods with old and often unpredictable infrastructure.

Neighbors said Wednesday's gas leak was the second one in the past week on Pennsylvania Avenue. The much smaller leak last Friday occurred after the gas line's location did not match up with the markings on the ground, crews from West Shore Group said.

West Shore Group was also responsible for a gas leak near the Kirkwood Circle Apartments at 50th in Central on March 3.

A Google spokeswoman said much of its work will take place above ground on power poles, and Google is working to find safer methods to work underground.

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