Girl notices something amiss – signs of a natural gas leak |

Girl notices something amiss – signs of a natural gas leak

Terri Harber
Appeal Staff Writer

A 12-year-old girl may have averted a disaster from occurring in a neighborhood near Carson High School.

Keira Gray noticed bubbles coming up from the street near her family’s home Tuesday night, and her persistence likely saved her family and neighbors from harm because what she saw was evidence of a natural gas leak, according to authorities.

“I just kinda smelled it,” said the sixth-grader at Carson Middle School. “I was hearing bubbling. We don’t usually hear bubbling when it rains.”

Employees from Southwest Gas Corp. and the city were called to the intersection of Elaine Street and Willard Lane after the Gray family reported the problem.

Keira’s mother, Donna, said her daughter’s persistence is what finally prodded her to contact someone to investigate. Donna started making calls after 10 p.m.

“She was insistent that something was wrong,” Gray said of her daughter, who first noticed something amiss around 8:30 p.m. “I kept saying ‘Oh, Keira, it’s just the rain.'”

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A 2-inch pipe was leaking, according to Cynthia Messina, a spokeswoman with Southwest Gas Corp.

Workers started to arrive there after 10:30 p.m. and not only noticed bubbles coming up from cracks in the street but also got a huge whiff of the tell-tale scent of a gas leak: rotten eggs. “Sometimes we don’t listen, and we should,” Gray said.

People need to act immediately and call 911 or Southwest Gas when they believe a natural gas leak might be happening, Messina said.

“We went to the neighbors and told them to get out of their living rooms,” Gray said.

Another family had to leave their home while the gas was aired out because it had traveled in that direction.

The workers told Keira “it could have blown up the house,” she said.

“Natural gas is a very dangerous product,” said Assistant Fire Chief Bruce VanCleemput. “It permeates large areas, and when it finds an ignition source, it can be very destructive. It can level entire city blocks.”

Natural gas also deprives humans of oxygen and seeks out areas to confine itself, he said.

When people notice the smell or see evidence of a possible gas leak, “we definitely need to know so it doesn’t have an opportunity to do damage,” VanCleemput said.

The line has been repaired and the street temporarily patched after workers had to dig through the asphalt to reach the leak. The Grays and three other families in the neighborhood affected by the leak had their gas turned back on Wednesday afternoon.

“It was a crazy night,” Gray said. “My daughter saved us all.”

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber or 882-2111, ext. 215.

Clues that indicate a

natural gas leak

SMELL: An unusual odor, like that of rotten eggs. Because natural gas is lighter than air, colorless, and odorless, an odorant is added.

HEAR: An unusual noise coming from the ground or an above-ground pipeline. A hissing or roaring sound may indicate escaping natural gas.

SEE: Discolored vegetation surrounding a pipeline, or water or dirt blowing into the air.

If you suspect a leak

• Leave the vicinity immediately.

• Warn others.

• Do not light a match, start or stop an engine, use a phone, switch on or off lights, or do anything that might create a spark.

• From a safe place, call Southwest Gas Corp. immediately, day or night at 1-800-772-4555; or 911.

Source: Southwest Gas Corp.