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Most of S.R. 70 re-opened after gas leak

EAST MANATEE — Crews this afternoon have shut off natural gas flowing out of a broken line at the intersection of State Road 70 and Caruso Road, but traffic there remained snarled at 4 p.m.

At 1:20 p.m., a construction crew with Utility One LLC, which was laying a fiber optic line to Braden River High School, cut through a TECO natural gas line, and the volatile gas escaped, according to Capt. Larry Leinhauser with Manatee County emergency operations. There was no explosion or injuries.

Traffic was stopped westbound on State Road 70 and in both directions along Caruso Road to minimize the risk of a car engine or cigarette igniting the escaping gas.

Gas moving through the line was shut off several hours later, and the risk was lessened, Leinhauser said.

Just before 4, the Department of Transportation opened two of the three westbound lanes of State Road 70. Caruso remained blocked off.

Crews from TECO, FDOT and Manatee County emergency operations worked at the scene into the late afternoon.

Utility One LLC is a subcontractor of MasTec, the company laying the fiber optic line for FDOT and the Manatee County School Board.

When the line was ruptured, fire, emergency and law enforcement agencies converged at the scene, and officials called the accident a major gas leak.

No evacuations were reported.

East Manatee Fire Rescue sprayed foam in the area of the line rupture, and crews were able to see where the natural gas was bubbling up, Leinhauser said.

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