An email sent by the University of Chicago to its community Tuesday morning warned of a gas leak at 59th Street and Ellis Avenue. A spokesperson for the university said that a gas line had been struck during ongoing excavation in the area. After an evacuation and street closure in the morning, an all-clear announcement was given through the same e-mail alert system at 12:24 this afternoon.
“You can smell it now,” said Patsy Bradford, who said that police and fire officials evacuated her from a building on Ellis Avenue around 10:30 a.m. because of the strong gas fumes.
At 11 a.m., a Chicago Fire Department official, who did not give his name, said that there “was no alarm at the scene,” which he confirmed meant that the situation had been resolved. However, Hazardous Materials Response Team (HazMat) trucks, fire engines, ambulances and police cars remained clustered on Ellis between 57th and 59th streets to secure the area. Police were stopping cars going south on Ellis Avenue at 57th Street and warning pedestrians to remain on the east side of the street.
The university could not provide details on the excavation which caused the leak or the buildings affected by press time.