Two homes were
evacuated Tuesday afternoon and several yards flooded following the one-two
punch of a combined natural-gas main/water main break on South 15th Street.
It wasn’t clear at
the time how the two mains managed to fail simultaneously. What is
clear is that for some two and a half hours water was gushing from the
ground like a geyser, and for some four hours gas was flowing freely, the
Chesterton Fire Department said.
Lt. Steve Himan
told the Chesterton Tribune today that the CFD responded to the scene
at 12:58 p.m. The exact location: on the east side of South 15th Street just
north of Portage Ave. The position of the two lines: running parallel to one
an other, about one foot apart and roughly three feet below ground, the
ductile water main a little deeper than the plastic gas main.
Himan said that the
water main looked to have a “rip” in it, approximately 1 1/2’ x 1 1/2’ in
size, while the gas main had a latitudinal gash in it some three inches in
“Nobody knows how
or why,” Himan said. “Nobody was digging in the area that we know of. NIPSCO
and Indiana American Water were looking at it and the guys were like ‘We
don’t know how that could happen.”
The gas leak
prompted the CFD to evacuate two homes near the scene, Himan noted. And
while there’s no telling the total gallonage of water released, a lot of it
ended up both in front and rear yards before draining into a stormsewer
The CFD cleared the
scene around 5:30 p.m. but NIPSCO and Indiana American Water remained there
working on their respective lines until late Tuesday.
John Schnadenberg called the water main rupture “pretty unusual,” although
he did add that water mains don’t just break in the winter. “We had four of
them break in town this past summer,” he said.
confessed to being as puzzled as the firefighters. “We really don’t have an
answer,” he said. “We’re as stumped as anyone else as to how this might have
say that the water played havoc with the newly paved South 15th Street,
undermining a 10 foot section of it to a depth of three feet.
As of deadline,
Indiana American Water had not returned an e-mail from the Tribune
but NIPSCO spokesperson Megan Henning said that a crew on the scene
concluded that the pressure from the water main caused the rupture in the
gas main. A NIPSCO crew was on site by 2 p.m. and took readings to ensure
the safety of residents, then shut off the gas to the line. After the water
was cleared from the hole by vacuum truck, the rupture was repaired, with a
NIPSCO crew on scene until midnight.
customers for their patience,” Henning said.