Gas line break shuts down U.S. 13 near Dover Mall

An overhead map shows the portion of U.S. 13 in Dover that was shut down for several hours Wednesday due to a gas main break. (Submitted photo by Dover Police Department)

An overhead map shows the portion of U.S. 13 in Dover that was shut down for several hours Wednesday due to a gas main break. (Submitted photo by Dover Police Department)

DOVER — The late morning break of a U.S. 13 gas main caused significant traffic congestion but no catastrophe before the six-inch line was repaired, fire officials said Wednesday.

After a hole-boring contractor struck a gas main in front of Best Buy, responding police and fire units completely shut down the stretch between College Road and the Dover Mall’s south entrance as repairs were made.

Dover Fire Department said it received a call reporting the disruption at 10:08 a.m. and was on the scene until 11:50 a.m. while Chesapeake Utilities personnel repaired the damage.

“It took a while for Chesapeake to find (the break,)” Fire Chief Mark Hall said.

At the end, a potentially dangerous situation was avoided.

“There was heavy gas in the area,” Chief Hall said. “It was a volatile situation and could have been a major issue if the gas had ignited with a cigarette or something else.”

Chief Hall said customers and employees inside Best Buy, Michaels and Ashley Furniture were all evacuated as a precaution, and the main entrance into Delaware State University was closed by campus police. Classes were not canceled, Chief Hall said.

As as result, Chief Hall said heavy traffic patterns resulted on College and Walker roads as motorists were routed from the closed stretch of highway.

“I was on Walker Road and there was a long backup of cars,” Chief Hall said.

Dover Police Department responded for traffic control, Chief Hall said, and the Delaware Department of Transportation also provided support.

Dover Fire Department had six apparatuses and 35 volunteer members at the scene, officials said. The Little Creek Fire Company also responded with a truck. Cheswold and Camden fire companies covered Dover’s two stations during the response.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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