View GJ House Explosion Evacuation Area

Update as of 1930 per Joint Information Center located at GJHS North Parking Lot.

MESA COUNTY, Colo - Some residents who have been evacuated are being allowed back into their homes, however others will remain evacuated overnight. The current evacuated area includes approximately 75 homes within the following boundaries:
- both sides of 7th St from Elm St. Walnut Ave
- Orchard Ave. to Walnut between 6th St. and 8th St.
The American Red Cross is on scene at Grand Junction High School providing assistance and shelter for anyone who is still evacuated. Evacuees can get dinner at the Salvation Army building on 6th St.
This evening the Grand Junction Fire Department is taking residents who are in the evacuation zone into their homes to make brief checks and collect necessary items such as medications and pets. If you need to get into your home tonight, please meet at the command post in the GJHS parking lot prior to 11:00 p.m. so you can be teamed up with Fire personnel who will take you to your home.

UPDATE as of 18:30 by Tom Freeman

The area of evacuation has been decreased as crews continue to work in the area. The problem was determined to be a major gas feed line for CMU that carried about 40 P.S.I. of pressure. Your average house line is fed at 1 to 2 P.S.I.. This line developed a break feeding gas into the sewers and houses. The Fire Department and Excel were already in the area looking for a reported gas leak when fire was noticed in the house at 1752 7th Street. It exploded before crews could get to it, blowing the two people inside of the home out. The three people were taken to St Mary's Hospital. One was treated and released. A house at 1742 7th Street was also leveled by fire and a possible smaller explosion. No one was home at the time. A third house was extensively damaged by fire and water just to the north of the leveled houses.

A high Pressure Line Team from Excel was brought in to dig down and cap off the line buried about seven feet down that feeds CMU. All gas and electricity was shut off in the evacuation area to prevent further accidental explosions and the sewers were opened and ventilated.

The evacuation area was being collapsed as of 6:00 p.m. to the immediate area of the fire and gas line. Excel was also turning home utilities back on and traffic was allowed into the opened areas. It appears that the intersection of 7th and Orchard will remain closed for some time longer as the gas line and streets are repaired. No word yet when CMU will have full gas service to campus.

By Tim Gray:

Evacuations are taking place in area of North 7th and Orchard Avenue after a house with a gas leak erupted in fire after an explosion.

[Update -- 4:45 PM 3.19.13]

MESA COUNTY, Colo - The evacuation area for this incident has been expanded. The current evacuation zone is 6th Street to 9th Street, North Avenue to Bookcliff Avenue. Residents who have been evacuated and need a temporary place to use facilities can come the Grand Junction High School. If this incident lasts into the evening, GJHS will be opened as a shelter for evacuees, however that has not happened at this point.

Xcel Energy and Grand Junction Fire crews are removing manhole covers to release the gas from the sewer system, and Grand Junction Police officers are going door to door to make sure people have been evacuated.

School District 51 officials are on scene, and at this point are not expecting classes to be canceled for tomorrow. Should that change, school officials will notify parents later today.

Students for Grand Junction High School and Tope Elementary are being evacuated. Students from GJHS are being sent to the Salvation Army parking lot or Sherwood Park, while Tope Elementary are being taken to West Middle School.

KKCO is reporting that fire officials are now worried the gas leak could spread to other houses causing them to catch on fire.

At least 3 people are being treated for minor burns.

Traffic is being being restricted traffic between Patterson Roads and North Ave and between 1st and 12th streets.