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Ruptured Madras gas line sealed; Hwy. 97 reopens

Hwy. 97-26 closure gas leak
Jefferson County Fire District No.1
US Highway 97/26 was closed in Madras Tuesday due to natural gas leak

(Update: Highway reopens)

MADRAS, Ore. (KTVZ) -- An excavation crew punctured a four-inch natural gas line in Madras late Tuesday morning, forcing closure of U.S. Highway 97/26 for about two hours and prompting precautionary evacuation of a nearby department store.

The incident was reported shortly after 11:20 a.m. and reportedly occurred at a truck stop construction site across the highway from Bi-Mart, which voluntarily evacuated as a precaution, Jefferson County Fire District No. 1 Chief Brian Huff confirmed.

Cascade Natural Gas repair crews were called to the scene and arrived around 12:30 p.m., Huff said. The line was sealed by about 1:20 p.m., he added later.

Jefferson County dispatchers sent a text earlier, saying the highway was closed between Hall and Fairgrounds roads and urged drivers to avoid the area.

Some traffic was being diverted to Highway 361 (the Culver Highway).

The closure was near milepost 97 on the highway. Check road updates at our TripCheck page.

Accidents and Crashes / Central Oregon / News / Top Stories

Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.



  1. “An excavation crew punctured a four-inch natural gas line in Madras late Tuesday morning”
    So how did this happen- aren’t these jokers supposed to call 811 before digging ? Was this negligence the actions of some “private” excavation crew out of Portland-Idaho- Washington- or was this at the hands of the Jefferson County Road Crew ?
    Where’s the accountability ? These kinds of incidents occur every year once the weather gets good and the local laborers start tearing up the ground. Don’t their Safety Departments have “refresher” courses during the winter- the down time- before the spring and summer construction projects ramp up ?

    Make no mistake kids- you can blow up a city block on one of these leaks… it only takes a dropped cigarette and Kabloooey ! Kiss your lower limbs goodbye !

  2. Barney, do you have any info of the new truck stop ? I hadn’t heard anything about it.
    There is a definite need for more large truck stops. There use to be quite a few trucks
    stops years ago and there were a lot less trucks on the road. Now there are a lot more
    trucks on the road and they started demolishing many of the old truck stops 30+ years ago.
    On top of the shortage, many states and cities have enacted new regulations that restrict
    where and how long trucks can park, and many now have ridiculously made it illegal for trucks
    to idle. Of course the idiots that enacted the regulations have never tried sleeping in a truck when it is 118 degrees in the summer, or -20 in the winter.

      1. Thanks Barney. That should be a nice facility. Our son and I went to Portland yesterday, and while I was waiting for him, I looked at Z21 on my phone (which I really don’t like doing )and saw mention of the new facility in this story. We came back over Hood but by the time we got to Madras, it was late and I couldn’t see very much…
        It will be interesting to see how much affect this will have on the old Shell station / truck stop, because it’s really a dumpy old facility that has very minimal parking,
        and the parking it does have is full of potholes and mud puddles. It would be nice if the owners had the parking area redone and paved but it may not be financially feasible, and I’m not sure how old the in-ground tanks are, but that can be a very expensive proposition having those updated as well…
        Perhaps it won’t make any difference because the older truck drivers tend to be somewhat loyal to certain facilities, but much like the dwindling number of truck stops, old truck drivers are becoming a rarity as well.

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