Fire dept. responds to overwhelming calls for gas odor complaints

(WISH Photo)

PIKE TOWNSHIP (WISH) — There has been no rest for firefighters after responding to hundreds of calls for a strong gas smell on the northwest side of Indianapolis.

Citizens Energy Group said the smell did not come from a gas leak, but from a harmless odorant.

The Pike Township Fire Department exhausted its resources Tuesday night and had to call in for extra help from other departments like Indianapolis, Carmel, Zionsville and Brownsburg.

Battalion Chief Chris Tragesser told 24-Hour News 8 his department had a historical run.

“I think everybody slept well today when they got off duty, a lot of meals on the road last night,” said Tragesser.

Pike Township firefighters spent Tuesday night checking on a disturbing smell. Many people thought it was gas.

Firefighters from five stations were sent to 150 to 160 different runs that during an eight hour period.

“The calls started generally increasing in size soon after we got a call from Citizens Energy Group,” said Tragesser. “We began conversation with them to kind of get an idea of the size of the incident.”

While the smell may not be pleasant, a spokesperson for Citizens Energy Group said people living near West 86th Street and Michigan Road have nothing to worry about.

“While the pump that releases the odorant malfunctioned, the actual natural gas that was distributed to customers was distributed in a completely safe manor and we don’t want customers to be worried about their safety,” said spokesperson Sarah Holsapple, from Citizens Energy Group.

But the reassurance didn’t stop the overwhelming calls. At one point, Tragesser said the department had to modify the runs.

“We scaled back the number of apparatus that we send on each of the runs and we were able to more efficiently mitigate each of those calls,” said Tragesser.

Even though it turned out to be a false alarm, the calls did not go unnoticed.

Some people working in the area of the smell said they were evacuated Tuesday afternoon as a precaution, but now 24 hours later, the smell is starting to fade.

“Actually towards the end of the day yesterday, it kind of dissipated and today I don’t notice it at all,” said Joshua Ouse, employee.

Citizens Energy Group said it received at least 1,000 calls Tuesday night.

Tragesser believes the number of runs for his department could actually be higher. He said not only were people calling 911, but they were also calling the fire stations.

Some people even approached firefighters while they were out on scene asking for help.

Citizens Energy Group said to call (317) 924- 3311 to report an emergency or leak.

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