Fire crews work to disperse vapours from a burst gas pipe in Maryborough’s CBD.
Fire crews work to disperse vapours from a burst gas pipe in Maryborough’s CBD. Averyll Loft

Gas leak in Maryborough CBD

TWO SCHOOLS, a medical centre, homes and businesses were yesterday evacuated after a gas pipe was accidentally ruptured in Maryborough’s CBD.

Emergency services rushed to the intersection of Sussex and John streets at 9.25am when staff and students of Maryborough High caught a whiff of natural gas and called triple-0.

Dennis Pamenter, officer in charge at Maryborough Fire Station, said crews worked quickly to “disperse the gas vapours” while police blocked off the area.

“To get it under control we had to disperse the vapours with water so it didn’t get to a concentration that it could ignite.

“While we kept it down at a low concentration, the pipe had to be clamped.”

In the meantime, Maryborough Central and Maryborough High’s northern campus were evacuated. Maryborough Central students were then put into lockdown in Maryborough High’s hall.

This resulted in a bit of chaos for Maryborough High’s tuckshop volunteers who found themselves with more than 280 hungry little mouths to feed.

“We dished up everything we had,” said tuckshop convenor Genni Hambrecht.

“One of the girls rushed into town and got some bread and ham and everyone popped in to help.”

Sullivan Nicolaides was also evacuated and St Stephen’s Private Hospital was put on standby.

“We made sure we had all the patients ready to go,” said St Stephen’s general manager Leanne Tones.

“We had no theatres happening ... so that was good.”

Emergency crews were able to officially close the scene at 1pm. Mr Pamenter said that while the pipe was being clamped, replaced and re-pressurised, the gas concentration in the air did not reach more than five per cent.

“We go into alarm at 10 per cent. With the water dispersing the gas vapours we were able to keep it down to low levels.”

He said the pipe was accidentally ruptured by contractors who were drilling holes for cables and it was lucky the gas pipe was not considered high pressure.

“We had twelve urban firefighters, two QAS units and six units of police,” he said.

“This situation is always treated as an emergency.”

No one was injured or taken to hospital as a result of the gas leak and nearby St Mary’s Primary School was not evacuated because it was upwind from the leak.



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