Great Falls

May 8, 2013 10:44 AM by KRTV

Gas smell triggers evacuations in downtown Great Falls

Several buildings in downtown Great Falls are being evacuated due to reports of a gas smell.

We're told that the US Bank building and several others have been evacuated.

Fire crews and other emergency personnel are on the scene at several locations.

We will update you as we learn more.

(UPDATE, 9:20 am) Great Falls fire officials have given the all-clear signal, and said that there was no gas leak.

They say that the smell appears to have been caused by garbage trucks crushing discarded cans of mercaptan, which is a chemical added to natural gas.

Since natural gas has no discernible scent, mercaptan - a non-toxic chemical - is often added to make it easier for people to detect a gas leak.

(UPDATE, Noon) We have since learned that a large batch of "scratch-n-sniff" cards are to blame for the gas smell.

The cards were apparently mailed by an energy company and contained "sniffable" samplers to inform customers about danger signs of potential gas leaks.

Gas smell triggers evacuations in downtown Great Falls