SURREY - A two-square-block area of South Surrey was evacuated after a city crew accidentally ruptured a four-inch natural gas pipe with an excavator on Monday afternoon.
Stores, businesses and some households around 24th Avenue and 160th Street were evacuated for several hours, backing up traffic throughout the area.
"We've got a large area shut down," said Sgt. Drew Grainger, of the Surrey RCMP, above the roar of gas blowing from the high-pressure line.
Twenty-five Mounties helped direct traffic along neighbouring streets while three fire crews worked at the scene and an ambulance stood by.
The gas leak started at about 1 p.m. By 3 p.m., Surrey deputy fire chief John Caviglia said it would probably take about two hours to stop it.
The leak could be heard, and the foul odour could be smelled, from blocks away.
Kelly Watson, a Coast Capital employee who was among those evacuated, said the cars in his complex were trapped, forcing himself and others to walk off the property. It appeared that people who could access their cars were able to drive out of the closed-off zone.
"We were sitting in the branch and this huge noise came and we could just smell the gas," said Watson, 22. "Within minutes, they had come and told us to get out of there."