Update (11 a.m. Friday): A state agency will investigate the cause and circumstances surrounding a gas rupture that affected service to residents in about a three-mile area.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission will conduct an investigation into the Thursday evening rupture at 21st Street and Memorial Avenue. The rupture, described as a gas leak and explosion, occurred about 3 p.m. in the 2200 block of South Memorial Drive. An OCC spokesman declined to provide detailed information while the investigation remains ongoing.
Fewer than 1,000 customers are without gas as of Friday afternoon, according to ONG.
The cause of the rupture in a high-pressure gas line at the location remained unknown Friday morning. Rumors that a vehicle struck a gas line were unsubstantiated. Tulsa police said they did not locate any wrecked vehicles. An OCC spokesman said there was no information to support those rumors.
City officials said Oklahoma Natural Gas had an ongoing project in the area but were unable to provide details about the project.
ONG officials did not respond Friday morning to a request for comment. Officials did post a statement to the ONG website stating that crews "worked overnight and continue to work in the area of 21st and Memorial."
"We appreciate everyone’s patience as we work as safely and as quickly as possible on repairs so that we can begin the restoration process to get the gas turned back on for all of our impacted customers," ONG officials said in a prepared statement. "As information becomes available, we will provide updates."
The natural gas outage affected residents and businesses in a roughly three-mile radius around the site. A timetable for service restoration was not available.
Residents and businesses were evacuated and Memorial Drive was shut down for hours after the rupture.
The rupture occurred at a construction site in the 2200 block of South Memorial Drive just after 3 p.m. No injuries were reported.
Five hours later, at 8 p.m., residents were being allowed to return to their homes and electricity was being slowly restored, police said. Power was restored to all residents of the area by 10 p.m., Public Service Company of Oklahoma reported.
Gas was shut off to the ruptured pipeline, and more than 50 Oklahoma Natural Gas employees were at the scene on Thursday night trying to restore service, police said.
ONG released a statement Thursday night, reporting that the natural gas outage affected residents and businesses in a roughly 3-mile radius around the site. The company’s technicians were to go to each affected home and business and turn off the gas at the meter, the statement said.
“Once all the meters have been turned off, we can then begin to work to restore natural gas service to our impacted customers,” ONG said.
Power was cut in the area temporarily to prevent potential electric sources from igniting the gas, Tulsa police spokesman Officer Danny Bean said.
Police shut down Memorial Drive near 21st Street, as well as 22nd Street. Northbound, eastbound and westbound traffic lanes were reopened Thursday evening, but southbound lanes on Memorial Drive were expected to remain closed for several days, the Police Department announced.
The evacuations included nearly 100 seniors at nearby assisted living communities. Those residents were taken temporarily to Memorial Drive United Methodist Church, officials said.
AEP-PSO reported that about 2,100 electric customers in the area were without electricity on Thursday afternoon.
Many area residents sat in their cars blocks from their homes for hours, waiting for the all clear.
The Rev. Bob Lawrence, who in his car two blocks from his home, said his biggest concern was his pets — a black Lab and a tortoise — both vulnerable to the cold because the utilities were off. Temperatures were in the low 40s on Thursday evening and were expected to dip into the high 30s overnight.
An ONG spokeswoman said Thursday night that officials were still trying to determine exactly what happened. She said they weren’t sure whether it was a private or public vehicle that struck the gas line.