Constant smell of gasoline fumes disrupting lives on West Side

FOX 32 NEWS - Several families on Chicago's West Side say a strong smell of gasoline fumes has disrupted their lives over the past week.

“It's horrifying. It's terrible. I wake up smelling gas, I go to sleep smelling gas,” said resident Susan Jones.

For twenty three years, Jones was a home inspector for Chicago's Health Department. Now, she says her own home on the 3200 block of West Washington has become a living nightmare, due to gasoline fumes coming up from the sewers below.

"I wake my children up in the middle of the night, shake my husband, because I'm afraid, that, I'm not sure, if they are sleeping normally, or if the gas fumes have got a hold of them," Jones said.

FOX 32 smelled the fumes ourselves as Jones showed us around. They were strongest in the basement, where she keeps a cap over the drain and uses buckets of water to reduce the odors coming out.

Because of the fumes, Jones says she now considers her kitchen to be more of a hazard than a place to cook dinner. She says the fumes are constantly coming up out of the kitchen sink, and she's now afraid to even turn on her stove.

Others homes on the block have fumes, too. Bettye Sherrod called the fire department on Sunday. She was told the fumes aren't hazardous, but she's had trouble breathing.

“I had a couple of asthma attacks, I was so full of mucous, I could barely get my breath,” said Sherrod.

And this isn't the first time.

A year ago, Jones, Sherrod and others on the block were evacuated for almost two weeks when gas from a nearby gas station somehow got into the sewers. That station's manager told FOX 32 that last week, a truck delivering gasoline did have a spill in the area, and he's had to hire cleanup crews again. The cleanup crew says surveillance video shows a 17-minute leak of ten to twenty gallons, which apparently got into the sewers.

“Tomorrow we're going to have a company, the owners hired them, at the suggestion of the city, they're going to test everything with the station. The piping lines, the tanks themselves, the vents,” said David Yacko of Site Environmental Services, Inc.

The city health department says the fumes are not a health risk, but it has offered temporary relocations for affected families. Some residents, though, say they're not satisfied with the options offered so far.