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Gas leak capped in SF at Mission and Beale

November 10, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
There were orders to evacuate and shelter in place Thursday night after a gas main break in San Francisco. It happened at 7:15 p.m. in the South of Market area when a PG&E construction crew cut a one-inch hole into a 16-inch gas line at Mission and Beale streets.

Some of the streets were blocked off for hours. A loud hissing sound could be heard coming from the broken main and there was an overwhelming smell of gas in the air.

"The firemen were there then the policemen started running around then the firemen started running around so it was kind of crazy," said Alex Cowley, a restaurant patron who had to evacuate.

Cowley was just trying to enjoy a few drinks and appetizers at RN74 when gas started spewing from the pipe at the corner of Mission and Beale. The damage was done by a PG&E crew which was working on a distribution line to accommodate construction of the Transbay Terminal.

"While we were excavating a hole, we actually damaged a two-inch fitting on the line," said PG&E spokesperson Jason King.

There was no explosion, no fire, but police did block off the area.

"We have a one-block radius cordoned off and the news right now is for the residents is to shelter in place, if you're on the street, to extinguish all of your cigarettes and to move quickly out of the area," said Police Lt. Kevin McNaughton.

As RN74 began to evacuate, restaurant patron Cecilia Gates said, "We were feeling a little lightheaded and when we went through the restaurant you could totally smell the gas smell and when we stepped outside it was like overwhelming."

Residents at Millennium Tower on Mission and Fremont were told to stay inside and turn off the AC while PG&E got things under control.

"We valved off the leak at four different points, stopped the flow of gas by 8:40 p.m.," said King.

That's an hour and a half after leak started, leaving four commercial customers without service, but PG&E says everything was safe. PG&E had to relight the pilot lights for all of those customers without service.


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