Gas line break at Monroe County Jail causes lockdown and standby evacuation plan

BLOOMINGTON – A gas leak outside the Monroe County Correction Center placed the facility on temporary lockdown Wednesday afternoon, according to a press release from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department Sheriff Ruben Marte`.

Photos provided

Around 3:45 p.m., on Wednesday, an ASI maintenance crew who was in charge of removing a toilet in the Monroe County Jail were exiting the building to place the toilet outside when the inlet valve for a gas line an inlet valve for into the Correctional Center was struck and damaged causing a gas leak

Sheriff Marte` immediately placed the inmate population on lockdown, and called the Bloomington City Fire Department and Centerpoint Energy. Along with the lockdown, Sheriff Marte` immediately stopped the use of all gas appliances within the Correctional Center.

The Bloomington City Fire Department firefighters arrived at 3:47 p.m. and were escorted into the facility by correction staff. During this time, they checked the building’s air quality levels every 15 minutes and checked to ensure there was not an additional gas leak within the building. 

While BFD was inside the Correctional Center, IU Health Bloomington Hospital EMS personnel and BFD sent additional EMS personnel to check blood pressure and CO2 readings on anyone feeling the effects of the gas leak. BFD continued to monitor the air quality to ensure they stayed below non-explosive levels.

Sheriff Marte` with command staff started the department’s short-term evacuation plan by placing all Merit Deputies (38), Reserves (13), and all Correctional Staff (75) on standby. Sheriff Marte` re-arranged the evening meal ordering pizza from various local pizza places for the facility’s 200 inmates.

Operations remained normal other than temporarily changing the entrance for inmate intake. 

At 6:07 p.m. BFD advised the levels were still decreasing and that it remained safe to have the inmates and staff members on-site, thus negating the need to activate the short-term evacuation plan.

Repairs were started by digging up the location for the shutoff valve at 6:07 p.m.

At 7:12 p.m., the gas line leak was stopped by Centerpoint Energy.

Sheriff Marte` is very thankful for the Bloomington City Fire Department’s rapid and professional response.