Officials search for source of gas smell in Town of Merrill - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Officials search for source of gas smell in Town of Merrill

People along County Highway K in the town of Merrill knew something wasn't right Tuesday night. They smelled a strong odor of natural gas.

"We were driving up to church here to check on the vicinity we heard about the situation<' said Paul Hohman of Merrill.

A pastor at New Testament Church said when he arrived, he was turned away.

"When we wanted to turn into the church or get closer to the church, there was an ambulance blocking that road," said Hohman.

He tried different routes, but had no luck.

"I didn't make it into the building,” said Hohman. “I couldn't get in here they had everything blocked off."

Even though he couldn't get close, he could smell the gas.

"The closer I went north, you really could smell the natural gas,” said Hohman. “It was very strong."

"Through my experience it's one of the strongest gas smells I've ever experienced," said Steve Hintze, the shift commander at the Merrill Fire Department.
Merrill firefighters say Wisconsin Public Service arrived.. But the fumes weren't strong enough to test. The type of gas everyone smelled is still unknown, but firefighters have some ideas. One was that it could have come from a train.

"We have different reports of the gas smell that's exactly or in the vicinity of where the train goes through,” said Hintze.

Another was that the cold temperatures affected a propane tank.

"It may have been overfilled and with the heating of the sun and then the constant cooling it may have had some type of release that way," said Hintze.

After four hours of searching, crews reopened the roads and left the scene, leaving lots of questions.

The fire commander says the department and Wisconsin Public Service plan to keep searching for answers about the smell.
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