Route 1 gas leak in Prince George's County forced evacuations, road closure

Gas leak along Route 1 in Beltsville, Md. (Photo: Robert Horan/NewsChopper 7)

BELTSVILLE, Md. (WJLA) - The Prince George's County Fire Department said a "significant" gas leak along Route 1 near its intersection with Sunnyside Avenue was finally contained after forcing some evacuations and road closures for several hours on Thursday.

Gas jetted from a ruptured four-inch pipe in Beltsville for hours, creating a white cloud that wafted over northern College Park and carried a distinctive natural gas odor.

Michael Harrison’s Greek restaurant was one of several business evacuated in this busy commercial corridor.

"No customers can get in, can't get out, so the only good thing is I get to watch the U.S. soccer game," he said.

The culprit is that yellow directional drilling machine near the leak – you can even see it extending down into the soil. There is no word yet on whether somebody neglected to call Miss Utility, but somehow the drill went right into the high pressure gas line.

No one was hurt during that initial incident, and according to the fire department, despite many calls from anxious residents who smelled gas, the real danger dissipated in the breeze.

"There is an odorant to it so people in northern College Park are going to smell natural gas, but it's so dispersed there is no explosive concern at this point," said PGPD PIO Mark Brady.

"Situation mitigated at Sunnyside and Baltimore Ave. PGFD picking up and will clear shortly," Fire Dept. public information officer Mark Brady said via Twitter around 3 p.m.

There were no reports of any injuries.