by: DAVID F. ASHTON - S.E. Milwaukie Avenue in Westmoreland is blocked by fire rigs, as they investigate a broken gas line. Several Westmoreland businesses were emptied and temporarily closed on Friday, August 31, when a natural gas line was broken on S.E. Milwaukie Avenue.

At about 11 am, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) crews, as a precaution, closed down the street for a block in either on either side of Fat Alberts Café, near Bybee Boulevard, while they assessed the situation.

“A dumpster was pushed into the gas line,” reported PF&R Battalion Chief Jim Forquer at the scene. “The gas line is broken below the meter. We’ve evacuated the businesses [Fat Albert’s, and LoLo’s Westmoreland Barber Shop] on both sides of the alley.”

The sound of the gas escaping made a whistling sound that could be heard at some distance.

“We’re monitoring the businesses on both sides, and we think we’re going to be in good shape,” Forquer added.

NW Natural Gas arrived and began repairing the service to the building. “We’ll be letting people back in their businesses as soon as we’re sure it’s safe,” Forquer said. And, by 1 pm, it was again business as usual in Westmoreland.

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