Natural Gas Leak Closes Highway 99E in Canby Wednesday Morning

A reported gas leak early Wednesday morning closed traffic on Highway 99E through the heart of Canby, as crews worked to repair the damage.

Canby Fire Chief Jim Davis said the leak was reported at 12:48 a.m. and was finally stopped at about 7 a.m., as Northwest Natural crews worked throughout the night to repair the damaged gas line.

“Long night,” Davis remarked.

Commuters in the area reported a strong odor of natural gas in the vicinity of 99E and North Grant Street Wednesday morning.

Canby Fire and utility crews closed all lanes of Highway 99E through Canby between Elm and Ivy streets to repair the leak, with traffic being diverted onto 13th via South Ivy and Southwest Berg Parkway.

Mike’s Place on Northwest 1st was evacuated early Wednesday morning due to a strong odor of natural gas and the fact that it was nearly closing time (2:30 a.m.), Davis said.

Firefighters took natural gas readings at Mike’s and other locations on 1st, 2nd and 3rd avenues and found they were not at unsafe or explosive levels.

Several readings closer to the Union Pacfici railroad tracks, however, caused some concerns, and trains were stopped until after 2 a.m.

“There was some wind blowing north and toward the downtown area,” Davis said. “But fortunately, most of the gas was going straight up. The winds picked up about an hour after the incident and it dissipated further.”

Canby Police and the construction company’s flagging crews assisted with directing traffic. Even when Highway 99E reopened Wednesday morning, it remained down to two lanes due to ongoing repair work.

“It was a good response from Northwest,” Davis said. “If they had just shut off the valves, a good portion of Canby would have been without natural gas. They chose to weld a new valve on either side. It was a fairly technical operation.”

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