Birmingham City Hall, Baldwin Library evacuated for gas leak

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published February 21, 2017 | Updated February 24, 2017 9:45am

 Birmingham City Hall has been evacuated due to a gas leak.

Birmingham City Hall has been evacuated due to a gas leak.

File photo by Sarah Purlee

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Employees of the city of Birmingham are currently standing in downtown’s Shain Park, awaiting word that they can reenter City Hall following a gas leak reported the morning of Feb. 21.

According to Cmdr. Scott Grewe of the Birmingham Police Department, which is housed in City Hall, on Martin Street, people inside the building smelled gas just as crews called to alert staff that a gas main had been damaged nearby.

“There’s a gas leak over at Martin and Bates. The Fire Department’s working on (what caused it), but there were crews working over there, so we’re thinking they hit something,” Grewe said.

The crew is a private construction firm, according to Grewe, and not associated with the city. So far, in addition to City Hall, Baldwin Public Library and the AT&T building have been evacuated.

Marianne Gamboa, spokesperson for the city of Birmingham, sent out an email around 11 a.m. asking the public to please avoid the area to make way for emergency personnel. She added that while City Hall will be closed until further notice, fire and police services will not be interrupted.

Debra Dodd, a spokesperson for Consumers Energy, said service technicians from the utility are on the scene evaluating the situation.

“A third party company was doing work and boring underneath the road and hit a 1.25-inch plastic main of ours. We’ve been on-site, monitoring for the presence of natural gas, and police and fire responded to — as a precautionary measure — evacuate some buildings in the area,” Dodd said.

Grewe said the odor of gas was strong in the buildings, seeming to come from the sewers or conduit lines.

But Dodd said the situation is well under control.

"Since it’s one of our 1.25-inch plastic mains, hopefully they can get it pinched off and quickly make some repairs. I’m just waiting to hear about that,” she said at around 11:35 a.m.

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