People evacuated after car crashed into house gas meter on Near East Side

January 19, 2019

A neighborhood on Madison’s Near East Side was evacuated Thursday night after an alleged intoxicated driver crashed his car into a house, rupturing the natural gas line to the house.

Cade Hellenbrand, 19, was arrested on a tentative first offense operating while intoxicated charge and for failure to maintain control of a vehicle, Madison police said.

The crash and evacuation happened at about 9:30 p.m. in the 1000 block of East Dayton Street.

The Madison Fire Department arrived on scene and found a Mercedes sedan next to the side of the two-story house.

“From a distance, it appeared the car had driven directly into a gas or electric meter,” said spokeswoman Cynthia Schuster. “That was confirmed when firefighters stepped out of their rig and smelled the strong odor of natural gas, along with the sound of gas rushing from the meter.”

Madison Gas and Electric was called and a crew responded quickly, determining the rupture required an evacuation of all people within a 300-foot radius from the house.

Police and fire crews on scene evacuated a one-block radius around the house, and didn’t allow traffic into the area.

“Personnel from Ladder 1, Engine 3, Ladder 8 and the police went door to door to remove occupants from the perimeter,” Schuster said.

MGE stopped the leak within minutes, and people were allowed back to their homes about a half-hour after they were evacuated.

Hellenbrand was not injured in the crash.

The house was assessed for structural damage but no major damage was found and the occupants were able to return.

Update hourly