SCRANTON -- Lunch hour was interrupted and stores were forced to shut, after workers noticed a strong smell of gas inside a shopping center on Meadow Avenue in Scranton.
Because the roof of the complex was covered with so much snow, it took firefighters and utility crews a few hours to get to the root of the problem.
By mid-afternoon, contractors discovered what went wrong.
"The weight of the snow coming down from the roof actually shifted the gas line, caused a gas valve to crack," Scott Eaton, contractor.
Officials say what happened at the shopping center is a good reminder to home owners to keep their gas meters clear of snow.
"What happens is we have a gas meter here and at the end of the gas meter hanging off is a regulator with a screen on the bottom where it vents," explained Assistant Fire Chief Jeff White, Scranton Fire Department.
White said the combination of heavy snow and gas equipment poses a real danger.
"Maybe a three- or four-inch pipe coming up, gets covered in snow, then carbon monoxide problems," White said.
Firefighters say with so much snow to shovel, it's easy to forget about your gas meter.
It's an oversight one shopper plans to fix.
"I wouldn't have thought about it before, but now I would," said Erica Modero, Scranton
Firefighters say nobody got sick from the gas, and a number of the stores were able to reopen by the afternoon.