HANFORD — Early Black Friday sales were cut short Thanksgiving evening when a gas leak caused two Hanford stores to be evacuated.
Ulta Beauty and Michaels were evacuated due to the gas leak while Target was allowed to remain open for the night, said Hanford Fire Chief Chris Ekk.
Ekk said just after 9 p.m. Thursday, crews were called out to the Target shopping center for a report of the smell of gas. He said when crews arrived, they confirmed there was a smell of gas and began to contain the situation.
Ekk said an investigation revealed a gas meter behind Famous Footwear was broken and leaking gas. He said Famous Footwear and Old Navy were not open at the time, but Target, Ulta Beauty and Michaels were open.
Crews began evacuating people located inside Ulta Beauty and Michaels, which Ekk said were part of the “exclusion zone” per Environmental Protection Agency guidelines. The exclusion zone is the area with actual or potential contamination and the highest potential for exposure to hazardous substances.
Ekk said Target was outside of the exclusion zone and was allowed to remain open, but crews still monitored inside the store to make sure there was no danger to those within. He said there was no evidence of gas at the store.
Ekk said along with HFD crews, crews with the Kings County Fire Department, Hanford Police Department officers and deputies with the Kings County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene and assisted with the evacuations.
Ekk said the gas company arrived at the scene within 30 minutes of the emergency call and had the issue contained within two hours. He said the company told officials the gas meter behind the Famous Footwear may have been hit by a vehicle, causing it to leak.
There were no injuries, and Ekk wanted to thank the managers, staff and customers of the stores for being cooperative during the evacuation.
All of the stores are open again for Black Friday shopping.