Bismarck family warns others to check their lines, alarms after surviving gas leak

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BISMARCK, N.D. - With another winter storm on the way, you may need to worry about more than just your travel plans. Last weekend a Bismarck family had a major scare when the weather caused a gas line to break in their home.

The Weigum family experienced a utility emergency, but because of the harsh conditions, what should have been an easy fix was a much more difficult task.

Last week the Weigum family was just trying to get through the harsh weather, but something was wrong: there was a strange smell in their house.

"It made me kind of feel ill and weak but also kinda cranky and hungry, thirsty and tired," says Aiden Weigum.

Aiden's mom called her husband Dan to let him know what was going on. He decided he needed to leave work and rush home. When he opened the door, he knew something was wrong.

"It was so strong, it took my breath away, and my family's been sitting in this odor all afternoon," says Dan Weigum.

Dan called Montana Dakota Utilities and 911. When emergency services showed up they tried to get to the gas valve, but there was a problem.

Daniel and the firefighters were trying to reach the valve to shut off the gas, but there was a snow drift in the way about 10 feet high.

"That is something I've taken for granted through this whole year, and now we're in a situation where it's life or death and everybody around us is, they're in imminent danger because I couldn't keep my meter clear," says Weigum.

Representatives from MDU stressed how important it is to have free access to all your utilities.

"The meter needs to be clear for it to operate properly for one thing. Number two, if that snow is wet and heavy it could put undue pressure on the pipe, and that could crack and cause a gas leak," says Mark Hanson, MSU Spokesperson.

That's exactly what happened. And while the house was filling with dangerous gas, there were chances for an even more deadly situation to unfold.

"My wife was even burning a candle all afternoon to try and deal with the odor, so we had ignition sources all over the place," says Weigum.

Luckily, nothing sparked an explosion, and Weigum's family safely waited while the valve was dug out and shut off. Then after the house ventilated, they were able to return inside. But they are lucky and want to serve as a warning to others this holiday season.

Weigum said that had the leak occurred a couple hours later while everyone was asleep, they may not have awakened. A regular carbon monoxide alarm will not alert you to the presence of natural gas, but there are other alarms that you can by to keep you and your family safe.