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Broward Courthouse Reopens After Gas Leak Evacuation

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Gas leak in Fort Lauderdale near the Broward County Courthouse. (Source: CBS4)

Gas leak in Fort Lauderdale near the Broward County Courthouse. (Source: CBS4)

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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The Broward County Courthouse has reopened for business after it was evacuated following a gas leak near the garage area.

The gas leak started around 7:30 a.m. at 201 SE 6th Street, about 25 feet south of Broward County’s Main Jail.

A four-inch line supplying natural gas to the courthouse and jail was ruptured by a backhoe at the construction site of the new Broward County Courthouse, according to Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue.

Video from Chopper 4 showed the gas spewing into the air.

Traffic around the site was redirected while courthouse and construction workers were evacuated.

The main jail was placed on lockdown and didn’t accept any new prisoners while firefighters checked each floor of the jail  to ensure there was no danger inside the building.

“We were concerned about the jail so we had firefighters go through each floor of the jail with monitors to check and it was windy this morning as well, fortunately, the wind caused the gas to dissipate and we didn’t detect any vapor in the jail itself so the inmates were secure,” said Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue spokesman Matt Little.

Three people near the front entrance of the jail complained of nausea and vomiting and were taken to Broward Health Medical Center.

Meantime, Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue’s HazMat team secured the leak while the gas company turned off the gas supply to both the jail and the courthouse. A TECO supervisor on the scene said the repair would likely be a “day-long” project.  The broken line is approximately 6’ – 8’ below the surface.

Courthouse employees were not allowed to re-enter the building until the all clear was given by Chief Judge Peter Weinstein.

“After consulting with the fire department chief several times, we decided just to wait and make sure they went through the entire complex and when they determined it was safe, I said okay we can go back in,” said Judge Weinstein.

Construction workers have also returned to the job site.

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