Crews isolate gas leak, patrons back in mall - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Crews isolate gas leak, patrons back in mall

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Crews respond to a reported gas leak at College Square Mall in Cedar Falls on Friday morning. Crews respond to a reported gas leak at College Square Mall in Cedar Falls on Friday morning.
CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) - Officials found and isolated a gas leak that forced the evacuation of a Cedar Falls mall.

Cedar Falls Fire Chief John Schilling told KWWL a gas leak that forced the College Square Mall's evacuation mid-morning Friday was found and isolated after about an hour.

Workers and shoppers were able to re-enter the building at around 12:30 p.m., Schilling said.

Managers at HuHot Mongolian Grill said the restaurant lost around $2,000 in sales from its lunch crowd because the restaurant was forced to stay closed until 12:30 p.m.

"It's definitely something that you don't want to do as a restaurant is be closed down," said Dustin Korkow, manager of HuHot.

"I've worked at restaurants for over 10 years and never had to close down for anything, so it hurts when you're working with such thin profit margins," he said.

Korkow said HuHot just re-opened after being closed for more than a week while crews worked on the mall's roof. He said when the restaurant was forced to stay closed over the lunch hour on Friday, a lot of the employees were in disbelief.

"It didn't hurt anybody, so that's good," he said.

Meanwhile, Tim Wyckoff, owner of Villa Italian Specialities in College Square Mall, said his business lost a few hundred dollars during the mandatory mall evacuation.

"The mall did a very good job getting everybody out in an orderly fashion, in a timely fashion, so I was happy about that, and just thank God no one was hurt, and everyone was safe," said Wyckoff.

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A leaking gas line at a Cedar Falls mall forced the entire mall's evacuation Friday morning.

Cedar Falls Fire Chief John Schilling told KWWL a worker up on the College Square Mall roof smelled something and alerted officials at Cedar Falls Utilities just before 10 a.m.

When crews arrived, they evacuated the entire mall and determined that at least one of the seven gas lines was leaking, but were still trying to determine which line it was as it was an area crews "can't easily get to," Schilling said.

Cedar Falls Utilities spokesperson Betty Zeman said crews worked with mall security to find and isolate the leak. In the process, some gas was vented to the outside of the building.

"So people may notice the odor if they're close by," Zeman said.

Schilling emphasized that no one was in danger but that police and mall security would be the ones to determine when workers and shoppers can return.

Mall workers on scene told KWWL that mall security came around and told everyone to evacuate.

A few workers said they could smell the gas. They were all congregating in the parking lots.

Employees said there was recent work done near the HuHot in the mall.

The College Square Hy-Vee was still open, as was the College Square Theatre.

Adam Amdor, Zach Grant and Amie Steffeneicher contributed to this report.

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