Nobody in, nobody out: Gas leak shuts down Folly Beach traffic for more than four hours

Traffic heading toward Folly Beach on Monday morning had to turn around because of a gas leak.

A gas leak shut down traffic to and from Folly Beach for more than four hours on Monday.

No cars could go in or out from sometime after 8 a.m. until just before 1 p.m.

It’s not unusual for a road to be closed when a gas line leaks; it happens frequently in downtown Charleston. Officials don’t want to risk an explosion from a backfire or dropped cigarette. Usually traffic can go around the problem, but Folly Road is the only land route in and out of Folly Beach, an island south of Charleston.

Some people asked Charleston County deputies blocking the road if they could make an exception and let them through. No dice.

If there had been a medical emergency, a helicopter probably would have been called in rather than an ambulance, Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin said.

“It wouldn’t have been safe letting anybody drive through that cloud of gas,” he said.

The city used its emergency notification system to call residents.

Some doctors had to cancel surgeries because they couldn’t get off the island to the hospitals downtown. Flights had to be rescheduled because nobody could get to the airport.

Those ending their vacations had to hang around for a while before heading back home. Cleaning crews couldn’t get to rental houses to get them ready for the next wave of visitors.

The beach was practically empty on a perfect summer day. Half the lifeguards couldn’t get to work, so the swimming area at Folly Beach County Park was restricted, according to a park manager.

Some digging related to construction ruptured a 6-inch gas line near Folly and Sol Legare roads, according to a South Carolina Electric & Gas spokeswoman. That’s just before the bridge heading onto the island.

A fire chief said a contractor working on the bridge hit the line with a backhoe.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.