Gas leaks at Rock Barn

Two gas leaks within 24 hours in Conover forced several residential evacuations and road closures.

First responders and gas crews responded to leaks Monday night and Tuesday afternoon near the main entrance to the Rock Barn Golf and Spa in Conover.

Fire officials say both leaks started when utility crews cut a gas line while installing new equipment for AT&T.

“They were doing some underground boring and ran into it,” said Claremont Fire Chief Gary Sigmon. “When you’re digging, that can happen.”

Several homes were evacuated temporarily Monday night after the first gas leak was reported about 7 p.m. near the main entrance to Rock Barn.

Sigmon said the residents reported a strong gas odor in their homes and were evacuated for safety reasons. They stayed at a neighbor’s residence until crews from Piedmont Natural Gas arrived from Charlotte to fix the leak, he said.

Crews turned off gas supplies Monday night to fix the first leak.

The second leak was reported about noon Tuesday after supplies were turned back on, Sigmon said. It took crews about two hours to fix the second leak.

The entrance to Rock Barn was closed during both leaks. Police also closed portions of Rock Barn Road from Oxford Street to St. Johns Church Road while crews worked.

Claremont Fire Department responded with gas crews for precautionary reasons. Sigmon said the combination of gas and digging equipment can sometimes produce a volatile spark.

“Normally, in that hole it’s saturated and too rich to burn,” he said. “It has to be a perfect combination almost for an explosion.”