Columbus firefighters evacuated six homes and closed an intersection for about 20 hours after workers hit an unmarked gas line.

The gas leak was reported at 2:43 p.m. Saturday at 19th Street and Home Avenue, said Capt. Mike Wilson, Columbus Fire Department spokesman.

Miller Pipeline, a Vectren contractor, was working in the area about five blocks south of Columbus North High School and struck a gas line that workers said was unmarked, Wilson said.

The contractor estimates the crew hit the gas line sometime between 1:30 and 2 p.m. Saturday, said Natalie Hedde, Vectren spokeswoman. The company had called the utility locator service and had it marked as required before the work began at the intersection, she said.

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Duke Energy disconnected electrical service to the homes as a safety precaution after the evacuations, Wilson said.

Most of the families stayed overnight with family or friends, Hedde said, although one family stayed at a local hotel.

The leak was fixed at 10:20 a.m. Sunday, Wilson said, and families were allowed to return to their homes. Gas service was expected to be restored to the homes by late afternoon Sunday, Hedde said.

Miller Pipeline workers told firefighters they initially thought they had struck a small gas line at the intersection but could not find the leak, Wilson said.

Instead, workers discovered they had hit an 3/4-inch steel line, Hedde said. Firefighters said the line that was ruptured intersected with the smaller line, Wilson said.

To fix the leak, workers had to dig up a portion of the roadway at the intersection and in another section about a half block further along Home Avenue to access the gas line, Wilson said.

While the work was underway, firefighters, Vectren and Miller workers monitored the nearby homes with gas meters to make sure the gas didn’t migrate into the homes, Wilson said. No significant gas readings were detected in any of the homes, he said.

Wilson said while the additive that is placed in natural gas — the rotten egg smell — was noticeable, most of it dissipated quickly in the air and did not pose a threat to other residents in the area, Wilson said.

Workers also monitored for gas levels in a 6-foot-deep pit where the gas line was being repaired, Wilson said. Firefighters worked shifts at the scene, available for fire protection during the repair process, Wilson said

Two shifts of firefighters and Vectren workers were at the scene overnight Saturday into Sunday morning, Wilson and Hedde said. No injuries were reported.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.