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Several evacuated after truck severs gas line near shops


Emergency crews evacuated customers and employees of two restaurants and a bank in front of the Roberts Field Shopping Center in Hampstead when a broken two-inch natural gas line spewed fumes about 12:20 p.m. yesterday. No one was injured.

Firefighters were in the process of evacuating the shopping center stores when the gas was shut off by Baltimore Gas and Electric workers.

Police said a tractor-trailer was northbound on Route 30 and turned into a service road when it climbed the curb and knocked over a six-inch diameter steel pole embedded in a three-foot deep concrete block. The concrete block apparently had been installed around two natural gas lines.

When the truck hit the pole, the gas lines were severed, knocking out service to the restaurants. The fumes were carried by the wind toward the shopping center stores.

Firefighters from Hampstead, Manchester and Arcadia of Baltimore County were dispatched and immediately closed busy Hanover Pike as a precaution, said Hampstead Fire Chief Herb Raver. Additional rescue equipment from Reese was later dispatched with a gas measuring instrument to check the area but was canceled prior to arriving.

Traffic was rerouted around the area by state, Hampstead and Baltimore County police until 1:10 p.m., when the gas line was shut off. BGE workers located a valve only 20 feet from the break and only several nearby stores were affected.

An official of the utility said it would take about one hour to repair the break.

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