Widespread Shelter-in-Place Alert Sent by Mistake in Tacoma, WA

May 9, 2024
The alert -- sent after the gas leak was handled -- was only supposed to go to people in a quarter mile radius, fire officials said.

Puneet Bsanti

The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)


May 8—News of a gas-line break prompted the Tacoma Fire Department to issue a shelter-in-place alert Wednesday morning.

"Broken gas pipeline in the area. Hazmat team is monitoring air quality. Temporarily shelter in place unless told otherwise," the alert stated.

Tacoma Fire said on Facebook that the gas leak happened at South 4th Street and L Street at around 8:38 a.m. The incident happened on the construction site of the new Mary Bridge Children's Hospital.

Puget Sound Energy was notified of the gas leak at 8:30 a.m. after a third-party contractor hit the main pipeline, which caused it to break. PSE crews arrived, and, within an hour and half of the initial call, the damage was repaired. The crew left at 9:50 a.m., according to a PSE spokesman.

The temporary shelter-in-place alert was sent to Tacoma residents at around 9:45 a.m. It was rescinded not long after.

The Facebook post said that the alert was supposed to go to people within one-quarter mile of the site. The department discovered the alert went far beyond the intended radius. It said it is looking into what caused that to happen so it can be avoided in the future.

"We acknowledge that this error has had an impact on a large number of residents, organizations and businesses, and for that we sincerely apologize. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through our processes to ensure this does not occur again," the post read.

Officials with Layton Construction, the project's general contractor, said they were investigating the incident and would issue a statement later in the day.

The company's emergency plan was activated during the incident. Construction crews left the site and gathered at two muster points.

This story was originally published May 8, 2024, 11:15 AM.


(c)2024 The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)

Visit The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.) at www.TheNewsTribune.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Voice Your Opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Firehouse, create an account today!