Employees evacuated a downtown Lincolnton store Tuesday morning after smelling natural gas, fire officials said.
Individuals at Merle Norman, located on East Main Street, called 911 around 9:30 a.m. with report of a potential gas leak.
According to Lincolnton Fire Department chief Mitch Burgin, the episode wasn’t the first time firefighters have responded to the store about a leak.
“We have been dispatched to that location on a couple of occasions for the same issue,” he said.
Fire crews turned off the store’s heating and air unit and called Piedmont Gas Company to further investigate the situation.
In the past, Burgin said he would simply advise store officials to contact an A/C service individual, but Tuesday called for different measures.
“It seems to be getting worse,” he said, “and it’s not isolated to one area. We do not need a city block with a gas leak.”
Piedmont crews, along with workers from Ford’s Air Conditioning and Heating in Lincolnton arrived on scene Tuesday afternoon to check the store.
Fire officials hoped to use the incident as a community reminder that a gas leak could prove explosive and deadly.
“If there is a build-up of gas in an area,” Burgin said, “it can ignite at any time.”
Firefighters blocked off a portion of East Main Street during the incident and warned pedestrians to clear the area, in case of a fiery blast.