Gas scare prompts temporary Walmart evacuation Friday

Friday, January 25, 2019

When a retailer is noted for only closing for Christmas and part of Thanksgiving, customers expect that when they show up, the doors will be open.

This is especially true in the middle of the day on a Friday.

So it was a bit mysterious to would-be shoppers who showed up at the Greencastle Walmart Supercenter during the noon hour on Friday when they found the retailer had been closed.

It was shortly after noon when messages began showing up on social media telling people to avoid the Greencastle Walmart, as it was being evacuated due to a gas leak.

While a call to the store around 1 p.m. provided that it had reopened a short time earlier, more information was obtained after Walmart spokesman Tara Aston returned a call from the Banner Graphic inquiring about what was going on.

Aston related to the paper Friday afternoon that an evacuation of the building did occur after a possible leak was reported inside. She said that the store was closed for approximately 45 minutes, during which Vectren was called to investigate.

However, the gas company was unable to find a leak inside, and the store was reopened afterward. Aston provided that the evacuation was done as a precaution while Vectren addressed the issue.

“The gas company came out and checked everything, and nothing was found,” Aston said. “But we’re glad everyone is safe and that there was no real issue.”

A shopper who was inside the store at the time estimated he was evacuated around 11:55 a.m. Taking that estimation into account, Walmart customers were allowed back inside around 12:40 p.m.

When the Greencastle Fire Department was contacted about the reports, Assistant Chief Rob Frank said that they had not been toned out to respond to an alarm. Indeed, when the Banner Graphic went to check on the incident around 1 p.m., there were no other first responders or vehicles belonging to Vectren present outside the store.

As of Friday evening, it is still unclear if the leak was initially reported as a gas-like odor which prompted the evacuation and subsequent investigation.

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