Emergency responders evacuated about a city block's worth of homes in South Albany after a "substantial release" of natural gas.
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People were waiting Friday afternoon for utility crews to dig up a pipe near a house where, fire officials believe, a blue Subaru hatchback collided with a gas meter at about 3:45 p.m. and filled a garage with combustible fumes.
Siblings Dane Gray and Erin Gray were walking a dog, they said, when they found firetrucks blocking the roadway near their house.
"I'm ready to be home," Erin Gray said.
They were still waiting in about 45-degree weather by about 6:30 p.m.
Albany Fire Department crews urged about 20 people to leave 16 residences, clearing out anyone within 100 feet of the leaking gas line.
"It's natural gas. So, it's flammable, and it could explode," said Tom Henke, a lieutenant with the department.
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Glenn Jones lives two houses to the west and said he could smell gas and hear "hissing" from their residence near Belmont Avenue Southwest's intersection with Belmont Loop Southwest.
Fire and police officials still had the neighborhood cordoned off with cones and emergency vehicles and people could smell natural gas at Belmont Avenue and Chapman Place, to the east.
By 6:40 p.m., residents began returning to their homes.
Emergency responders anticipated that utility NW Natural would work to seal a gas line and dissipate fumes from the site of the leak late into Friday night.
An excavator scooped terrain from beneath the roadway where utility and construction crews were expected to seal off the gas line with a guillotine-like pipe shutoff squeeze tool, according to Henke.
Fire officials believed the campus of Linn-Benton Community College campus, about 500 feet away, was unaffected.