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Old gas line ruptured while being worked on

WALTERS, Okla._City crews in Walters are working tonight to fix a decades-old gas line that erupted Thursday morning, prompting dozens of homes to be evacuated.

The leak happened around 9:45 a.m. in a residential alleyway in between Oklahoma and Kansas avenues. The Walters Fire Department quickly arrived on the scene to help secure the line, while police and the Cotton County Sheriff's Department worked to evacuate nearly 60 homes in the immediate area.

Officials said since modern gas lines are built with plastic tubing, crews working on the old metal gas line thought it was out of commission. When the line broke, that created a dangerous situation for nearby neighbors. Luckily, Thursday was not a worst case scenario, giving emergency crews a rare opportunity.

"Anytime you can hear that much gas coming out of a spot like that, it's going up in the air and I'd rather take precautions and not have somebody a block over start their car and blow up," said Walters Assistant Fire Chief, Clarence Bivins.

It was a frantic morning as emergency crews from all over Cotton County began knocking on every single door as natural gas shot high into the air in east Walters.

"We had all kinds of different reactions from ‘I gotta finish my bath' to ‘OMG can I grab my dogs' it was just from panic to really unaware," said Bivins.

But neighbors said regardless of what they were doing, their next action was clear.

"Don't be alarmed about it, just get your stuff and get out, that's kinda what it was about," said Randy Shoemaker

Randy Shoemaker lives just yards away from the leak, and he said crews were effective during the not-so-routine morning.

"Within probably an hour, they had everybody out of here. It's been back and forth here, people running over their gas meters and stuff but nothing to this extent," said Shoemaker.

And when it comes to evacuating entire neighborhoods Bivins, said they'd rather play it safe.

"I'd rather overdo it than underdo it and someone get hurt. As it worked out we didn't have any problems," said Bivins

As work in the alleyway resumes and folks head back into their homes, emergency crews can now hang their hats for the day feeling a little more prepared for the next big emergency.

"It was excellent training for our guys for when the really bad one does happen; we're not out there running around in circles," said Bivins

As of late Thursday afternoon, everyone was able to return to their homes. City crews are now working to replace the entire metal pipe with plastic tubing to prevent another leak from happening in that location.

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