What caused the 4-hour traffic shutdown on Airport Road in Destin? A gas line ruptured by lightning.

Tom McLaughlin
Northwest Florida Daily News

DESTIN — Traffic on Airport Road was impacted for about four hours Thursday as crews from Okaloosa Gas worked to fix a line believed ruptured by a lightning strike.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office responded to the area of Airport Road and Twin Lakes Lane at about 4:15 p.m. after receiving a call reporting a gas smell, according to agency spokeswoman Michele Nicholson. 

Airport Road was shut down for several hours Thursday night between Industrial Park Lane and Misty Way due to a gas leak.

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Crews had to dig underneath the roadway and adjacent sidewalk to locate the leak, according to Okaloosa Gas spokesman Eddie Springle. It is surmised that lightning might have struck a sign or other object in the vicinity of the gas line and caused the rupture, Springle said. 

"We think Mother Nature got this one," Springle said. 

The line that was impacted ran natural gas to the heater of the pool at the Sugarloaf Apartments, so no evacuations were necessary and no one lost service, Springle said. 

The gas escaping from the small leak quickly dissipated upon hitting the outside air, he said, so there was no danger to the public.

Gas company officials were able to open a portion of the roadway within a couple of hours, Springle said, and fully reopen it by about 8:30 p.m.