The Mt. Lebanon business district was one spark away from potential "devastation" this morning because of a natural gas leak that occurred when a demolition worker accidentally cut the wrong pipe, local fire department Deputy Chief Joseph Thuransky said.
Natural gas readings were at dangerously high levels in and around 670-672 Washington Road, site of the leak, the deputy chief said this morning a short time after the emergency was over.
The leak occurred about 8 a.m. when workers doing demolition inside the building mistook a gas line for a steam pipe and cut it. They immediately called 911 and firefighters evacuated that building and those on either side.
Washington Road was shut to vehicular and pedestrian traffic from Cedar Boulevard to Lebanon Avenue for about 90 minutes while the fire department and Equitable Gas responded.
The leak was plugged about 9 a.m. and the road was reopened a short time later.
Among the offices evacuated was the courtroom of District Judge Blaise Larotonda.
Deputy Chief Thuransky said the situation was an accident and while the workers should have known better, they will not face any fines or citations.
"It was a major gas leak inside the building and we could not isolate the shut-off," the deputy chief said.
Firefighters with air packs and breathing apparatus went in and eventually located the gas shut-off in the basement.
"The gas readings were very high. It was a very dangerous situation."
The building in which the leak occurred houses a stationery store, More Than Words, and what appears to be a restaurant or bar under construction, Rosewood.
The deputy chief said the situation was extremely dangerous and added that had a spark ignited at the wrong time part of the business district very well could have been leveled.
The buildings house a stationery business called More Than Words and a restaurant under construction named Rosewood..
Firefighters were summoned from nearby Bethel Park to assist.
First Published January 22, 2014 8:40 AM