A strong smell of gasoline Monday morning around Sandpiper Gardens and Glass that penetrated into Croft Place prompted residents and business people to vacate the building until firefighters and North Cowichan officials could do a thorough check before they returned.
Martin Drakeley, North Cowichan’s manager of fire and bylaw services, stopped short of calling it an evacuation which would have resulted in an entirely different response.
The source of the leak was a gas tank at Sandpiper that had been drilled into during the early-morning hours Monday by a thief stealing gas.
Fuel drained onto the ground and got into the storm basin, according to Drakeley.
“We checked all the areas with gas detection equipment,” he said. “Everything was fine. It was just a strong smell.”
Public works members from North Cowichan were on the scene to flood the storm basin and dilute the fuel.
After more than an hour, “we’re doing one final pass through the buildings making sure we have no readings,” said Drakeley.
About 15 firefighters from the Chemainus and Crofton fire departments attended, as well as two members with operations of public works for North Cowichan and ambulance personnel.
Drakeley added public works would be making sure there’s no more fuel on the ground. If there is after a period of time, the Ministry of Environment would need to be contacted but Drakeley didn’t expect that to happen.
None of the residents or anyone in the vicinity was injured or suffered any severe consequences from the gas odour.
Harry Mose, a former Port Hardy mayor and president of the strata council for Croft Place who now lives in Nanaimo, was alerted about the incident and made the trip to Chemainus.
“One of my council members called me and said there was gas (smell) in the hallways,” he said. “It’s really strong, the second floor hallway. You can get light-headed in a hurry.”
There are three floors to the building. Businesses are on the ground floor, with six units on the second floor and two on the top. All residents home at the time were outside until given the ‘all clear.’