Gas leak shuts down stores, streets in Moses Lake

Apr. 23—MOSES LAKE — A gas leak closed streets and caused some businesses to be evacuated Tuesday morning in Moses Lake.

At just before 8 a.m., a construction crew was excavating at Penn Plaza, at North Stratford and Mart roads, when workers struck a natural gas line, according to Moses Lake Police Chief David Sands.

"(It) caused a significant enough leak to spread pretty far and wide, so out of an abundance of caution we closed down the area as best we could," Sands said.

Some of the businesses affected weren't open yet, but others, including Starbucks, Walmart, Petco and Ross Dress for Less had staff and customers who had to be evacuated out of the area, Sands said.

"I was taking an order and then suddenly saw some construction guys running away," said Alex Buchmann, a barista at Starbucks, "It looked a little bit scary at first. We had some police officers in the lobby and they suddenly got up real quick and they ran out. Then we knew something was really going on."

The officers returned to the store and told everyone they would have to leave, Buchmann said, so the staff set the alarm, locked up and left. Police closed off Stratford Road as well.

"I know that we created some traffic issues for folks and certainly we apologize for that," Sands said, "but we want to be safe in these types of situations and we will always err on the side of caution."

The wind was blowing to the south, Sands said, so no residential areas were in its immediate path.

Crews from Cascade Natural Gas responded to the scene and the leak was fixed at about 8:50, Sands said, and the businesses were given the all-clear to reopen.

"We appreciate everyone that cooperated in moving out of their businesses," Sands said. "I know it was an inconvenient time to have to do that."

Joel Martin may be reached at