Gas leak that prompted SJ evacuation stopped

October 21, 2010 6:06:09 PM PDT
Fifteen homes and an entire school in San Jose were evacuated when a two-inch gas pipeline began leaking. Firefighters responded immediately after a police officers reported smelling some natural gas next to Gardner Elementary School.

It happened just before 10 a.m. All the children were quickly moved outdoors to the other side of campus where they waited for their parents to arrive to pick them up.

"They sent a mass phone call to all the parents letting them know what was going on at school," Veronica Aguirre said.

Firefighters used a gas monitor capable of detecting any flammable gas in the air and PG&E crews quickly dug up two holes in the street and managed to pinch two ends of the pipe, stopping the leak.

"That's normal. When you have a confirmation of a leak it doesn't matter if it is coming from a half inch main of a ten inch main it's still an emergency. We need to be prepared to mitigate that and we need to have resources on the scene in case it escalates," San Jose Fire Dept. Capt. Chuck Rangel said.

Those parents who arrived to pick up their children said it reminded them of the San Bruno explosion which occurred just last month.

"Everyone is quite sensitive to this right now because of the San Bruno issue," Paul Olson said.

The leaking pipe just outside the school is a distribution line which measures about two inches in diameter. The San Bruno pipe line was a much larger transmission line measuring 30 inches.

"Distribution lines are the ones that give everyone their gas for cooking and heating their homes. In San Bruno that was a large transmission line, a 30 inch pipeline that was moving big volumes of gas to the distribution lines," Matt Nauman from PG&E said.

PG&E wants to remind everyone that if you smell something, please call them directly. Gardner Elementary School will re-open for classes on Friday.


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