Ahwatukee residents irked by noise from gas line repairs

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

AHWATUKEE, Ariz. -- As work continues in an Ahwatukee neighborhood to clear out lingering natural gas from a now-fixed natural gas leak, four homes remain evacuated.

Southwest Gas says that leak was discovered last Friday by a contractor during a routine survey of gas lines in the 3400 block of East Nighthawk Way.

Eight homes originally had to be evacuated.

"We currently still have some lingering natural gas in the area, so our crews have been onsite aerating, which means they're pulling natural gas that may still be hanging out underground and bringing it up and out into the atmosphere," said Southwest Gas spokeswoman Amy Washburn.

The aerating is a noisy process, and some neighbors are telling 3TV it's so loud they're having a hard time sleeping.

"It is very loud if you're outside," said Stephanie Pratt.

Pratt's home is one that is still under the evacuation order. She and her family have been out of it since last Friday.

"Nobody expects to get a knock on their door at 8 a.m. Friday morning and say you need to get out of your home," Pratt said.

The family has been staying at a hotel nearby. Pratt stopped by her home today to pick up some additional items. She said the gas company has been very accommodating as far as access to their house.

"It's a little surprising, and you're not sure how many things you need to take. Is it going to be for a few hours? I didn't think it was going to turn into seven days, so it's just a little bit of a challenge," she said.

Southwest Gas told 3TV they are taking care of lodging as well as any reasonable expenses incurred by families displaced by the leak.

"So any yards that are damaged, Southwest Gas works with those customers to get everything back to how it was before the incident started," Washburn said.

The cause of the leak is still under investigation.

In order to allow the remaining residents back in their homes, Southwest Gas has to clear out all the natural gas that has seeped into the soil.

At this point, they are not there yet, so the noisy work continues.

I'm sure for everybody it's been a long, tedious process, and I'm sure everybody is ready for it to be over, and we're kind of ready to be home," Pratt said.

As for how long the aeration process will take, Southwest Gas did not want to put a time frame on it, telling 3TV they are working as quickly and safely as possible.

"Our primary focus is always protecting people and property, and the residents in this community really understand and have been supportive," Washburn said.

While this whole ordeal has been an inconvenience for Pratt and many others in the neighborhood, it could have been a lot worse. She told 3TV she's grateful they discovered the leak when they did.

"For that, we're thankful for everybody because it could have ended up a lot more tragic," she said.