“Paving will be scheduled for a later time, but the road is safe to open,” Dale confirmed.
Firefighters got a call around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday about what appeared to be a brush fire at 2049 Sylvan Road near the entrance to Langford Parkway, but arrived to find a natural gas leak was involved, Atlanta Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Matt Driver said at the scene.
“A full alarm assignment was dispatched, and we did have a large fire in the middle of Sylvan Road that was gas fed,” Driver told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The road and highway were closed for several hours during the chaos. On Thursday morning, GDOT officials said the eastbound entrance and exit ramp to Langford were open, while the westbound ramp was closed.
A contractor was working on a 4-inch plastic natural gas main line and damaged it, causing his tractor to ignite, which then spread to an area surrounding the Chevron station, Lovett told the AJC on Wednesday. Video showed the large flames reaching the height of the gas station’s sign more than 30 feet in the air.
“The flames got pretty big, causing things around the Chevron to catch on fire,” she said.
After evacuating the area and establishing a hot zone, firefighters worked over the next two hours to tackle the blaze with water and foam, according to Driver. Officials said they continued to monitor the gas, which by 12:05 p.m. was turned off and the area was secured.
According to Lovett, the work and digging by the contractor, who wasn’t part of their company, was done outside of the gas station. Details about the path of the fire were unclear, but most of the flames were extinguished by 12:20 p.m.
Tinesha Teasley has lived in the community her entire life and had never seen anything like the fire before. She watched crews tackle the blaze after picking up her children from nearby Perkerson Elementary. Some were interested to see the firefighters working, while one admitted he was a bit scared.
“(I thought) it was gonna blow up the whole gas station,” Teasley said.
The flames spread alarmingly close to the station, which was the No. 1 priority for firefighters. Driver said they kept hose lines on the structure, which didn’t sustain any damage.
“Unlike in the movies, they’re not quite as bad as a lot of people think,” he said. “They are very dangerous, but once we move in quickly and we get those hot zones established, the chance of life safety and danger definitely declined quickly.”
A few businesses in the area had to be evacuated, Driver said, and the people who were in the car that caught on fire got out safely.
“The standard for hazardous materials is uphill, up wind, so we had to make sure that our members as well as the public were in a safe area,” he said.
An investigation is ongoing into what caused the blaze.
“It’s unclear if the fire started the brush or the brush started the fire,” Driver added.
— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.