Unknown gas detection causes brief Louisa evacuation order; water not yet safe to drink

LOUISA COUNTY, Va. - A mandatory evacuation order for the Town of Louisa was lifted early Friday morning after an investigation into an unknown gas detected along East Main Street concluded. The evacuation impacted ore than 1,000 addresses near the Glen Mayre Shopping Center at 406 E. Main Street.

While the evacuation order was lifted, water in the area has still not been cleared for use.

"The Do Not Use order is still in place for water and the incident is still under investigation," a Louisa spokesperson said. "Water Authority and town staff have completed a full system flush and the water plant has been restarted for a system recharge. The first round of water testing is complete and the results of lab testing by the state Division of Consolidated Lab Services are clean."

Once a second round of testing re-confirms the water is clean, the Do Not Use order can be lifted on the water. Results are expected back by mid-morning Friday, CBS 6 reported.

As a result of the gas and water issues, all Louisa County Public Schools were closed for Friday. County offices will open late, at 11 a.m.

The following information was provided Thursday night by Louisa:

What happened? The presence of an unknown gas was detected at locations on East Main Street during the day on Thursday, 11/29/18, possibly stemming from the water system in the area.

What is the response? Staff from the Water Authority, Town Water Management, Emergency Services and hazmat personnel have been monitoring the situation on a constant basis in an effort to find the source and ensure the safety of our citizens. A DO NOT USE order was issued for water system customers in and around the Town of Louisa at approximately 4 p.m. This order extends to all users and all uses of water. Staff followed up on a door to door basis to ensure awareness of the situation.

Is the area safe? A mandatory evacuation order was issued at approximately 9:30 p.m. [Thursday] for those within a ½ mile radius of the Glen Marye shopping center in the town of Louisa as a precautionary measure. Emergency personnel continue to monitor the situation. [UPDATE: The evacuation order was lifted Friday morning.]

Is a shelter available? An emergency shelter has been opened at Moss Nuckols Elementary School, 2055 Courthouse Road; Louisa, VA 23093. School bus transportation to the shelter is available on Main Street in front of the Courthouse.

I have more questions – who should I ask? The County has opened its Emergency Operations Center and a hotline is available at 540.967.3496.