Gas line breaks along Seargent Prentiss

Published 1:48 pm Saturday, April 7, 2007

Just before dinnertime Friday, only two vehicles sat in Sonic’s drive-in parking lot.

The reason for that was simple — the restaurant was no longer cooking with gas.

Early Friday afternoon, a backhoe working on construction on Seargent S. Prentiss Drive hit a gas line. Atmos Energy and the county civil defense office decided they had to turn the line off in order to fix it.

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That put seven Seargent S. Prentiss Drive businesses in a bit of a fix themselves. And none more so than Sonic, Manager Allan Morrow said.

“Our grills and fryers use gas,” Morrow said. “(Atmos) came in and told us before they turned it off, so we were able to cook up a little hamburger meat ahead of time.”

But that didn’t last very long, he said. When customers drove in, carhops had to fill what orders they could and give out coupons for what they couldn’t.

“It’s hurting our business because everyone knows already,” Morrow said. “Word travels fast. It’s hurting even more than it usually hurts with the construction.”

The situation was safe, if inconvenient, Adams County Civil Defense Director George Souderes said. No businesses or residences had to be evacuated.

“We had a real good stiff wind, and we only detected the smell of gas about 50 feet away,” Souderes said.

“The wind was dispersing it real fast. Safety was our first priority, and the second was getting the gas cut off.”

Atmos workers were still digging in front of Trace City Toyota Friday evening, trying to find out exactly what happened.

Local Atmos Manager Andrew Calvit said he and his crew would work into the night until they took care of everything.

“We want to get as many businesses back online as soon as possible,” Calvit said. “We want to get businesses like Sonic and Wal-Mart, the ones who have to cook and are open 24-hours, first.”

It can’t come soon enough for Morrow.

“If we’re back up and running by 8 p.m., I’ll be surprised,” he said.