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Employees return to work after gas leak near Gov. Walker event

MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - Workers at a brand new state office building in Milwaukee returned to their jobs early Tuesday afternoon, after a construction worker broke a natural gas line nearby.

Governor Scott Walker had just dedicated the new Children and Families Department facility, when a backhoe severed a gas line close to a far corner of the building’s parking lot.

The building’s 200 employees – along with mostly commercial buildings in a two-block area – were evacuated starting around 9:30 a.m. The all-clear to return was given at 12:15 p.m., after We Energies cut off the flow of natural gas to the area while the broken line could be repaired.

Milwaukee Deputy Fire Chief Aaron Lipski and Cathy Schulze of We Energies both said it was fortunate that the leaky gas vented into the air, instead of into other buildings or under the ground.

Governor Walker waited until the leak was initially addressed before leaving – and while his SUV was leaving, firefighters told other motorists not to start their cars, to avoid an incentive spark.