By L.B. Edgar

Special to the Daily Herald

A natural gas leak off Trimmier Road caused traffic congestion for Killeen residents late Tuesday afternoon.

As a precaution, the Killeen Fire Department blocked through-traffic around the leak from about 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. when an Atmos Energy construction crew was able to shut off the flow of gas.

The leak began at 3:45 p.m. when a construction crew mistakenly struck the natural gas line of H-E-B's gas station while working on a new car wash, said Capt. Bill Brooks, scene commander for the Killeen Fire Department.

The fire department was on the scene within five minutes of the report and cordoned off the area. Killeen police also responded and assisted in blocking traffic.

Gas was clearly leaking from the below-ground pipe when firefighters arrived.

"We could hear it. It was coming out pretty fast because of the pressure," Brooks said.

The precautionary measures were to mitigate possible ignition of the gases by passing vehicles.

"A lot of people think we're exaggerating, but there is always a possibility the gas could ignite. Better to be safe than sorry," explained Brooks, the shift commander when the call came into the firehouse.

The Atmos Energy crew clamped off both ends of the severed gas line before traffic was allowed to resume on Trimmier. Repairs to the line continued after Trimmier was reopened.

Businesses off Trimmier were affected by the blocked roads because customers could not reach the retailers.

Among those affected was the Rathsack family, who drove from Minneapolis to see their son's return from Iraq Thursday. They were returning to the Days Inn when the leak stopped them for a few hours.

In spite of the inconvenience, LaVonne Rathsack said, "It will be wonderful to see him."

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