BEND, OR -- Bend Firefighters are responding to nearly double the number of calls involving gas leaks, compared to just five years ago. "In 2015, we went from an average of 30 up to 67, and it’s just up in the 70s, now," says Bend Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe, "So, we’re averaging over 70 gas leak calls per year; that’s a big jump for us and we’re trying to figure out why."
Battalion Chief Dave Howe suspects it could be partly due to the overall increase in construction around Bend, "Which means there’s more construction vehicles digging. And, the second thing was Cascade Natural Gas is continuing with their major gas line upgrade, where they’re replacing all the old lines in, like, 17 phases. And, there are a lot of line-strikes in that particular project." That gas line replacement project began in 2016, and Howe tells KBND News it has been challenging for contractors, "Replacing the gas lines in a city like Bend is a very complex job. And, there are gas lines that were presumed to be abandoned and were not abandoned; they were live."
Howe says other leaks were caused by homeowners working at their own property who failed to properly locate underground lines by calling 811 prior to digging.
Photo: Bend Fire responds to a gas like downtown, on November 7, 2018