Large area of Downtown left without gas service after leak that cleared buildings, shut down roads

CTV Winnipeg
Published Thursday, February 7, 2019 12:25PM CST
Last Updated Thursday, February 7, 2019 4:28PM CST

A gas leak near Portage Avenue and Main Street led to the evacuation of several buildings in the area and road closures Thursday.

Winnipeg Square, 360 Main Street and 220 Portage Avenue, as well as buildings on the west side of Fort Street between Graham and Portage Avenues, were evacuated. The city said crews with the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service searched buildings floor by floor to make sure everyone got out safe.

Southbound lanes of Main Street were closed but have since reopened. Fort Street is closed between Graham and Portage Avenues. People and motorists are asked to avoid the area and are being told to expect delays.

IN PICTURES: Gas leak shuts down Portage and Main

The city also said the operation in response to the gas leak lasted into rush hour, and drivers should use routes that don’t go through Downtown if possible.

UPDATE: The city said reentry into Winnipeg Square, 360 Main Street and 220 Portage Avenue is being staggered so people can collect belongings and get into parkades.

The city also said Winnipeg Transit buses and being rerouted and some routes are experiencing delays.

Manitoba Hydro also said 45 customers are without gas service in an area that stretches from Main Street to Donald Street, between Portage Avenue and St. Mary Avenue.

At an update to media Thursday afternoon, Manitoba Hydro spokesperson Bruce Owen spoke of the thousands of people inconvenienced by the gas leak, and said events when someone “inadvertently nicks an underground gas line” happen too often in Manitoba.

While Owen said exactly what went wrong in this case is under investigation, he emphasized the importance of calling Manitoba Hydro before digging underground and to carefully follow instructions provided by the utility.