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Cause of SLC apartment complex gas leak still unknown

Posted at 7:29 PM, Aug 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-03 21:29:03-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Dominion Energy has confirmed 14 gas leaks prompted Friday night's evacuations at an apartment complex in downtown Salt Lake City.

The entire 4th West Apartment Complex, which contains about 496 units, had to be evacuated.

On Saturday, employees with Dominion Energy went to each unit in order to locate the source and investigate the cause of the gas leak.

"Once they started running their tests, they were like, 'Yeah, it’s pretty bad,'" said Tyler Dukes, who lives at the complex. "Our neighbors a couple of doors down from us came back from dinner, and they happened to notice like a strong gas smell."

Capt. Adam Archuleta with the Salt Lake City Fire Department said gas levels were about nine times stronger than the lower explosive limit, which is why people were not allowed back into their homes for about five hours.

"This is not something at all you want to mess around with," he said. "It’s very difficult to determine exactly how this particular incident occurred but it could be a myriad of things."

Lorelei Prettner said she had just gone to bed when a fire alarm woke her up about 45 minutes later. Her night was not fun, having slept for only three hours total before work, but it was even worse for her mother.

"My mom just started getting really sick because she needs oxygen all night and she didn’t have that," she said. "My siblings and I just try to do anything that we can to help her out because she’s given us everything."

Prettner said paramedics let her mother sit in an ambulance for a couple hours to get oxygen. She was eventually able to be escorted back into the apartment complex to retrieve her mother's medication.

"I’m just more concerned that if it happened last night… there’s no saying if any other pipes are cracked," she said.

The cause of the leaks is still under investigation. A spokesperson with Dominion Energy said the leaks are the responsibility of the apartment complex -- not the gas company -- because the leaks were inside the building, on the customer's side of the gas meter.

When FOX 13 reached out to 4th West Apartments, we were forwarded to the company's corporate office in South Carolina.

Craig Wack, a spokesperson for the apartment's parent company Greystar, did not address the cause or status of gas leaks, but he did email us the following statement:

"Thank you for your interest in 4th West Apartments. Last night was the first evacuation the property has ever had. During the evacuation we offered residents a number of different options while they waited for the fire department to perform their duties: we opened the club house of our sister property next door and booked a block of hotel rooms that were available to residents at a discount if they were unable to wait out the fire department. Today while firefighters were performing inspections, we catered breakfast and lunch for residents while they waited."