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Moorhead assisted living center moves residents after contractor punctures natural gas line

MOORHEAD - A hit natural gas line this morning prompted Golden Living Center in Moorhead to move assisted living residents from one end of the complex to the other as a precaution.

A contractor reportedly struck the 2-inch gas line, said Xcel Energy spokeswoman Bonnie Lund. It was reported about 8:45 a.m. at 28th Street North and Highway 10.

Gas service was off by 9:29 a.m., Lund said. She said repairs have been made and crew are in the process of restoring service.

Moorhead Fire Chief Joel Hewitt said a contractor doing horizontal drilling to install cable for Midcontinent Communications was pulling back when it hit the gas line.

The care facility, which Hewitt said houses about 100 residents, moved all of them to the north end of the complex, which houses the nursing home area.

No gas was detected inside the building, and a stiff wind was dissipating the gas outside to keep it from reaching explosive levels, Hewitt said. Those factors led to the decision not to evacuate, he said.

"If we would try to move them or whatever, they'd probably suffer some type of injuries, or certainly I think shock or whatever," he said. "So keeping them inside the building is what we wanted to do."

Several fire trucks and ambulance units responded to the gas leak, including two of F-M Ambulance's major incident response units - a transport bus and an emergency medical services truck. Crews began setting up stretchers in case of an evacuation.

Hewitt said he believed this is only the second gas leak this construction season related to Midcontinent's build-out of Moorhead. Last year, contractors hit 20 to 30 lines related to the project, leading Midcontinent to adopt a zero-tolerance policy with its contractors, he said.

"I know they got rid of one contractor last week that hit a gas line," he said. "So they take this very seriously, which they should. We've got a great working relationship with them."