Mall evacuation

A member of the Aspen Fire Department stands outside of a cordoned-off area in the Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall in downtown Aspen on Thursday morning following a report of a gas leak. A gas smell was reported by an employee of Chase Bank just before 9 a.m., according to AFD Capt. Jake Spaulding. Black Hills Energy technicians investigated the smell and deemed the area safe for business activity just after 10:30 p.m. Spaulding said he was unsure of the exact cause of the problem, which was confined to the Paragon Building at 419 E. Hyman Ave. and handled by the natural-gas utility. The evacuation of Hyman Avenue businesses and residents was a necessary safety precaution, he said.