PLEASANT HILLS (KDKA) — A South Hills shopping center had to be evacuated in the rush of the holiday shopping season Friday afternoon.
“There were all these fire trucks from everyplace. I mean Baldwin and at least 4-5 different trucks from different areas,” Chris Lakomy from Whitehall recalled.
Just before 1:00 p.m., more than 10 fire crews from around the South Hills raced over to the Southland Shopping Center on Clairton Boulevard in Pleasant Hills for a call of a natural gas smell from one of the businesses.
Then other stores started calling for a similar situation until the whole plaza had to be investigated.
“It scared me a little bit,” Lakomy said.
About 50 people had to be evacuated as a precaution.
Firefighters say two people were treated at the scene for not feeling well but did not go to the hospital.
Lakomy was trying to go to the gym when she saw the situation unfolding.
“I went up to them and said ‘do you realize what’s going on out there?’ They said ‘we may have to close temporarily,’” she said. “I thought ok I hope they don’t blow up while I’m in here.”
Fire crews worked with People’s Gas for about 45 minutes to check the more than 40 stores.
They found no elevated levels of gas and eventually let them reopen.
“We’re thinking maybe with the weather that if they had something going in another area it might have kept the natural gas low to the ground,” Pleasant Hills Fire Lt. Tom Bonura said.
This is the second time fire crews have had to deal with a gas smell in the area in the last 24 hours.
Around midnight they had a call right down the street from the shopping center.
“We had a similar gas smell at one of the local Sheetz in town. At this point, the same thing occurred,” Lt. Bonura said.
People’s Gas crews said they don’t know the cause of the smell but do know it was not gas.