The cold weather didn’t cause firefighters and gas company workers to respond Thursday to a broken natural gas line in Fort Mill. The culprit was a ferret.
A lost ferret, actually, and a father trying to find his daughter’s Christmas pet.
The Winger family’s two ferrets, a male named Spirit and a smaller female named Mika, were in the bathroom of their home just outside Fort Mill. The ferrets were Christmas gifts for daughter Portia, 16. But about 2 a.m., Chris Winger said his daughter told him Mika was missing. The only place the ferret could have escaped was through a bathroom drain pipe formerly used for the clothes washer, Winger said.
Winger said he looked under and outside the house and found the pipe did not connect with the plumbing system. He found the end of the pipe and was digging around it with a shovel to try and rescue the ferret when he inadvertently hit the natural gas line, Winger said.
Winger called the gas company and fire department. The Fort Mill Fire Department responded first, said Fort Mill Fire Chief Chipper Wilkerson. York County deputies also responded, said Trent Faris, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office.
The fire department eliminated the gas flow, and York County Natural Gas workers repaired the line, said Glen Boatwright, directory of regulatory compliance for the gas company.
Boatwright said before anyone digs, call 811 to have utility lines marked.
“Even if it is your own yard,” he said.
Later Wednesday morning after the sun came up, Winger found the missing ferret in an elbow in the drain pipe.
“Unfortunately, Mika had passed away,” Winger said.
Winger buried Mika. But the family still has Spirit, the surviving ferret.