A small natural gas line that runs under the Kootenai River ruptured Friday afternoon, sending gas bubbling into the water near Bonners Ferry.
It was unclear how the three-inch line sprang a leak, Washington Water Power officials said. But it was not a large enough rupture to cut off service for customers on the north side of Bonners Ferry, which includes Boundary County Community Hospital.
Crews from WWP, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Division of Environmental Quality were all at the scene just northwest of town Friday along with county officials.
Divers went into the river to check how large the leak was and how best to repair it. Meanwhile, WWP crews were setting up another line to make sure there was no disruption of service.
County commissioners declared the situation an emergency late in the afternoon in order to get help repairing the line from other government agencies and to have access to federal funds if needed.
Officials said there was little danger the leak could cause an explosion.<