PORT RICHEY, Fla. — A Port Richey mall was reopened Wednesday afternoon after a gas leak forced an hours-long closure and evacuation.
- Firefighters responded to the mall just after 10 a.m.
- Business employees evacuated; no injuries reported
- Restaurant burner is believed to be cause of leak
Pasco County Fire Rescue responded to Gulf View Square Mall, located at 9409 US Hwy 19 in Port Richey just after 10 a.m.
Mall employees called 911 after detecting a gas odor when they reported to work.
"They told us to evacuate immediately because it could be a potential risk." Ulta employee Michelle Peck said. "It was pretty strong. As soon as you walked up right here by the entrance where it says Gulf View Square, you could smell it. It kind of smacked you in the face."
A TECO spokeswoman said the source of the gas was a restaurant burner that was left on. She couldn't confirm which restaurant, but a Pasco Fire Rescue spokesman said to the best of his knowledge, it was Harold Seltzer's — the only mall business with a gas connection.
Tampa Fire was called to assist with ventilating the building.
"Essentially what that truck does is it takes a lot of fresh air, pushes it in the front door, raises the inside pressure, then it shoots the gas out of a back door that we open up," said Pasco County Fire Rescue PIO Corey Dierdorff.
"We had crews on the roof trying to figure out where it was coming from, crews inside trying to figure out where it was coming from," he said.
No injuries were reported. Candy Barrel employee Helen Soltys said she wasn't scared but was cautious and left when firefighters said to do so.
"I forgot my pocketbook and everything," she said.
Dierdorff said any resident or business should call 911 if they smell what he called a "pungent egg odor" that lasts for more than a minute or two.
"We'd rather come out and clear an area than a potential problem happen," he said.