The crash occurred just after 3:30 p.m. The broken line could have caused an evacuation of the whole building and area.
Two people were inside the car when the crash occurred.
A passenger in the car was injured, according to Stan Clark of Bradley County Emergency Service.
The driver jumped the curb near the retaining wall, crashed through the wall and struck the facility’s back-up power generator.
The natural gas line was ruptured below ground “causing a serious leak.”
Cleveland Fire Department incident commander Lt. Buddy Ford said facility officials began evacuating patients from rooms near the affected area.
Patients were sheltered in place until Chattanooga Gas Co. officials arrived to cap the gas line.
Clark said a BCEMS ambulance and personnel were already on the scene at the facility when the crash occurred.
CFD officials arrived and extricated the man from his vehicle.
The female driver was uninjured during the crash. The male victim, 65, was transported to SkyRidge Medical Center in stable condition.
Clark said the man had “inhaled a large amount of the natural gas” as it rushed from the large pipe which had been ruptured underground.
“Multiple agencies responded to the scene. The gas leak posed a larger problem in that the safety of the nursing home residents was now compromised.
“Perry Rogers the assistant chief for BCEMS arrived on the scene to assist in coordination with other facilities that could receive residents for temporary placement,” Clark said.
Bradley County Fire Rescue Chief and Emergency Management Agency Director Troy Spence coordinated with schools to have buses staged in the event of a full evacuation.
Officials with Chattanooga gas used heavy equipment to reach the ruptured portion of the gas line and shut the flow off just after 5 p.m.
“They did a great job. If not for their quick response and getting the gas shut off, we would have been in a full-blown evacuation” Clark said.
“We have several nursing type facilities in Cleveland. Today we saw how quick an event could occur to require a full-scale evacuation. This was one of the closest times we have ever come to having to fully evacuate a facility of this type.
“All of the pre-planning, annual drills, and continued training paid off today,” Clark said.