Struck gas line prompts evacuation of Walmart in Temple

Struck gas line prompts evacuation of Walmart in Temple

MUHLENBERG TWP., Pa. - A struck natural gas line forced crews to evacuate a Walmart store in Berks County Wednesday.

Emergency crews rushed to the Walmart on Allentown Pike in Temple, Muhlenberg Township, around 5:20 p.m. as hundreds of customers and employees poured out.

"The alarms went off and they said everybody had to get out," said Cindy Levan, customer.

Levan was in the middle of getting a manicure and pedicure when the alarms sounded. She rushed out of the store without even grabbing her shoes.

"I had no idea, I was afraid the building was going to blow up. I really did," said Levan.

Others, like customer Donald Raifsnider, say the alarms were so loud that he rushed out of the store with his merchandise in tow.

"Oh boy did it sound. If they have mice in that store they got out," Raifsnider said.

A UGI spokesperson said someone called 911 just after 5:17 p.m. 

A private contractor was repairing a sinkhole behind the Walmart and accidentally struck a natural gas line that serves the store.

UGI crews assessed the situation and immediately got the gas shut off.

Walmart was evacuated as a precaution and was shut down for the evening, but UGI crews say they do not believe there was a threat to anyone inside.

"We never registered any gas readings around the building or in the building at all. So everything was escaping into the air," said Becky Eshbach, UGI spokesperson.

Customers say they are just grateful everyone was okay.

"You got to take it as it comes. If the place was burning down, you would want to get the heck out of there," said Raifsnider.

A UGI spokesperson expected gas service to be restored and repairs finished by midnight.

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