Portales gas leak evacuees allowed to return home

Freedom New Mexico: Alisa Boswell Portales firefighter Rick McNally is stationed near the site of a gas leak Tuesday afternoon on North Boston in case of a fire or explosion.

Alisa Boswell

A handful of Portales residents were allowed to return to their homes about 5 p.m. Tuesday after being evacuated earlier in the day because of a nearby gas leak.

Portales Police Deputy Chief Lonnie Berry said the four homes and a daycare center near the corner of North Boston and East Amazon Street were evacuated as a precautionary measure. The children at the daycare center were sent home for the day.

“We just evacuated four houses and the daycare on the corner, because they were in close proximity to the gas leak area,” Berry said.

Berry said the leak was stopped, however, repairs would take all night and into the early-morning hours.

Lt. Floyd Hancock of the Portales Fire Department said a natural gas line was struck about 1:30 p.m. while the ground was being drilled for a new power line pole.

Xcel Energy spokesperson Wes Reeves said Tuesday afternoon Xcel Energy officials were on site but whether they struck the line or not was unknown.

“I know we had employees present. None were injured,” Reeves said. “I don’t have anymore details at this time.”

June Montoya said she was returning home from a doctor’s appointment with her two daughters when she saw police cars by her residence.

“An officer came up and told me it would be best that I leave because a gas line had been hit,” Montoya said. “I could smell the gas the instant I got out of the car.”

Montoya said she took her girls to her mother-in-law’s house for the next three hours.

“I was a little bit scared, because I thought right away, ‘My house could blow up,’” Montoya said. “I left right away and didn’t even go back in ’cause I had my two girls with me and I’m pregnant on top of that, so I didn’t want to be smelling that.”

Montoya said she and her husband returned to the house first to make sure it was safe before bringing their children back.

New Mexico Gas spokesperson Monica Hussey said making the area safe again was the company’s first priority.

“Our first task at hand is to make the area safe and to contain the flow of natural gas, then to repair the line,” Hussey said. “Our crews are on site doing that right now.”