UPDATE: Shiprock residents return home after gas leak forces evacuations

The Daily Times staff
Units from the Farmington and San Juan County fire departments are positioned near the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock on Friday in response to a gas leak reported on the north side of the community.

FARMINGTON — Residents in an area on the north side of Shiprock are returning home after being evacuated because of a leak from a gas line this afternoon.

The leak was reported at about 1:50 p.m. on the east side of mile marker 91 on U.S. Highway 491, according to a press release from the San Juan County Executive Office.

No injuries were reported, but the leak forced the evacuation of 47 homes and Mesa Elementary School, as well as the closure of U.S. Highway 491.

The release states the San Juan County Fire Department will be checking homes for gas levels before residents can remain there. Navajo Tribal Utility Authority spokeswoman Deenise Becenti said the company will check and relight gas regulators and appliances.

Workers are on location this evening, waiting for residents to return, Becenti said.

Residents were relocated to the Shiprock Youth Center while Mesa Elementary School students were evacuated to Shiprock High School.

Crews from the San Juan County and Farmington fire departments assisted the Navajo Nation Fire Department with evacuations.

The Farmington Fire Department's hazardous materials unit had set up an air-monitoring station at the site, according to the release.

"After the gas leak was stopped, air monitoring indicated that it was safe for residents to return," the release states.

The release states that monitoring will continue in the area, and the highway was reopened.