Edmondson Avenue near West Franklin Street in Southwest Baltimore was closed for several blocks Wednesday afternoon because of a gas leak, according to fire officials.
Baltimore Gas and Electric was on the scene to assist after a contractor struck a “fairly large” gas line around 2 p.m. while working on the CSX tracks nearby, according to Blair Skinner, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore Fire Department.
The fire department was called after several people reported smelling gas. Around 20 residents were evacuated as a safety precaution, she said.
“At this point we don’t have any idea what time they will be able to go back into their homes,” Skinner said. The Red Cross had been called to provide residents shelter if they were not able to return home at night. BGE had not yet been able to shut off the gas line.
“Our crews are on site to assess at this point,” said Richard Yost, a BGE spokesman.
Dwayne Taylor waited on a bench for the all-clear to go into his house. He had been on his way home from work when fire officials told him it was unsafe to enter.
“I’m not going until they say it’s OK,” said Taylor, 54, who sat with two bags of groceries. He said he had also smelled gas the day before and had called his landlord, but hadn’t called the fire department. In light of the day’s events, he said he thought maybe he should have.
The hazmat situation caused traffic jams and commuter confusion before rush hour, with some bystanders wondering where they could catch their bus home.
The CSX track remained shut down and traffic was diverted around the area while fire crews responded to the scene. Parts of West Franklin Street were also closed.