A gas leak Monday night near Grady Johnston Mobile Home Park, just off Fair Road , led to the evacuation of the mobile home park, some nearby businesses and clients of Hometown Inn, said Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn.
"A ‘pop-off' valve malfunctioned and they couldn't get it to seal," he said. That meant the 500-pound natural gas tank had to be removed - dug up by hand.
Over 70 firefighters from both Statesboro Fire Department and Bulloch County Fire Department, donned in full protective gear due to the escaping gas, formed teams and took turns digging, Wynn said. The gas continued to spew from the valve, hissing loudly. "You could hear it from 50-to 75 feet away," he said.
Bulloch County Sheriff's deputies provided a transport van for hotel clients to move to another location and Statesboro Police helped evacuate residents living nearby, he said.
It took the firefighters until 4 a.m. Tuesday to unearth the tank, which was hauled away by a local gas company, he said.
Bulloch County EMS was on the scene in case of any injuries, and as a precaution in case a firefighter became overheated from exertion while wearing the protective gear, Wynn said. However, no injuries or mishaps were reported.
The American Red Cross was on hand to provide refreshments and other needs to anyone on the scene as well, he said.
The gas was cleared and residents were able to return to their homes this morning, he said.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.