Explosive gas levels clear Bend's Pine Tavern

Workers at iconic downtown restaurant smelled odor

Bend's Pine Tavern evacuated after gas leak

BEND, Ore. - Workers at Bend's historic Pine Tavern Restaurant discovered a potentially explosive natural gas leak Friday evening, prompting evacuation of the 76-year-old business and other nearby stores and streets, but there were no injuries, officials said.

Around 5:45 p.m., employees of the iconic restaurant at the foot of Oregon Avenue by Mirror Pond called Deschutes County 911 and evacuated the restaurant when they smelled a strong odor of natural gas, fire officials said.

Bend fire Capt. Andy Hood said the first arriving crew found "explosive levels of gas at the stairway to the basement," listing to the immediate evacuation of the restaurant and surrounding area, including blocked-off streets.

To eliminate ignition sources, power was shut off to the building, which also affected about 10 other businesses along the south end of Oregon Avenue and the west side of Wall Street, including Goody's, the candy and ice cream parlor.

Cascade Natural Gas Co. crews were able to isolate and shut off the building's gas supply.

After sufficient ventilation, Hood said, crews re-entered the building and found a water pipe in the basement had developed a leak directly over a large gas water heater.

It's suspected that the leaking water extinguished the heater's operating flame and pilot light, Hood said, adding that "redundant safety features or automatic valves may have failed, allowing unburned gas to escape in the basement area."

CNG crews and plumbing contractors were on scene to determine the exact cause and make repairs, Hood said. Nearby roads were reopened, he said, and Pacific Power restored service about 90 minutes later.

Hood said Pine Tavern staff "responded appropriately" with the quick 911 call and by safely and efficiently evacuating the restaurant on request. The incident shut the restaurant for the evening.

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