ORLANDO, Fla. --
A gas leak shut down several downtown Orlando restaurants during the busy lunch rush Friday morning. The leak at Orange Avenue and Grant Street forced repair workers to clear out the area, shutting down Orange Avenue in both directions from Michigan north to Grant (see map) for at least two hours.
The road reopened just before noon. Seven businesses were affected by the leak.
You could actually hear the loud hiss of natural gas escaping from a gash in a four-inch main line after it was ruptured. Thankfully, the breeze was light and there was little smell. Even so, nearby businesses were shut down as a precaution.
Orlando firefighters were called to the "SoDo" construction site before 9:00am after workers punctured the line, which runs through a concrete manhole sewer access. Orange Avenue was blocked off from Michigan Avenue two blocks north to Grant Street. Fire crews were willing to take no chances the gas might ignite.
People's Gas crews shut down the flow of gas by crimping the pipe with a hydraulic machine. Around 11:00am, fire crews checked and said at the source of the leak, only two percent of the ambient air contained the gas, not enough to spark an explosion.
Orange Avenue will be down to one lane southbound through the area for the rest of Friday afternoon. People's Gas crews said it'll take at least that long to repair the pipe and get natural gas flowing to the seven businesses.