Emergency crews battle bitter cold to repair gas leak

2 Champaign homes evacuated due to gas leak (Senait Gebregiorgis)


Local families were forced from their homes while emergency crews worked nonstop Wednesday repairing a gas leak from a service line on the 400 block of West Vine Street in Champaign. The bitter cold made it even more challenging to get the job done, but crews said safety for everyone is the number one priority.

“They came and knocked on the door and said 'hey there's a gas leak you need to hit the road,’” resident Randall Hawkins said.

Ameren Illinois and Champaign Fire were working on the scene since 8:30 in the morning until 11 p.m. Two families had to leave their homes while the damage was repaired.

"I just got off work and I wanted to check on my animals to make sure they were still okay,” Hawkins said. “I have a dog and two cats and they’re still inside nice and warm.”

The two families were given the option to go to warming centers.

"Crews have been rotating throughout the day to keep the guys warm as best as they can,” Champaign’s deputy fire marshal, Randy Smith said. “We're rotating during lunch hours so they can get a bite to eat.”

Ameren crews from Tuscola and Danville were also on hand to try and speed up the process.

"When it's cold like this we want to work as safely as possible,” community relations coordinator for Ameren Illinois, Kodi Smith said. “But we want to also work as quickly as possible so getting those extra hands always helps.”

Power was shut off for the entire block for hours, while crews went door-to-door checking homes to make sure everyone was okay.

"Safety is our number priority,” Smith said. “It’s safety in this cold for our workers and safety in this cold for our customers and that's so important for us and that's why we work with the city, the fire departments, the city manager and the county to make sure everyone is always safe.”

The leak was repaired and families were able to return home.


A gas leak in the 400 block of South Vine Street has caused two homes to be evacuated in Champaign, according to an Ameren spokesperson.

We’re told the gas leak is coming from the service line and crews have been on scene since around 10 a.m.

Crews are currently checking other homes in the area to ensure no gas leaked into their homes.

Several residents in the area are at work so Ameren had to key in their homes with the help of the county to check for leaks.

As of right now they're just repairing the damage and they don’t know how long they'll be out there. For now, the whole 400 block is without power just to be safe while repairing the damage.

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