EMPIRE - A leak at a private natural gas well forced the evacuation of about 30 families at the bottom of state Route 152 early today.
Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said authorities were waiting for a representative from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to arrive at the scene this morning.
"Columbia Gas can't shut the leak off because the natural gas well is on private property. We are now trying to contact one of the gas drilling companies operating in the county to come here to give us their expertise in shutting off the well. So, the evacuation remains in place until we resolve the issue," Abdalla said this morning.
The Stratton Fire Department was called around 7:30 a.m. to the area of the entrance to 84 Lumber and worked to evacuate the residents to the Stratton Village Building.
Abdalla said the gas well supplies gas to a couple of homes in the area.
State Route 152 and the nearby railroad line were ordered closed. Jefferson County sheriff's deputies and troopers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol blocked roads to prevent vehicles from traveling into the area.
ODNR was sending a representative from its oil and gas division to the scene to assist in the well repair.
Abdalla said the well has been in use for many years.
The American Red Cross Jefferson County Chapter was notified to assist those evacuated.
Workers at 84 Lumber already on the job were ordered to remain inside the building.