Richmond gas leak briefly prompts evacuations

November 12, 2011 4:41:56 PM PST
An entire neighborhood in Richmond was evacuated after construction workers dug into a PG&E gas line that workers said they didn't know was there.

The gas leak happened Saturday morning at South 47th Street and Wall Avenue. Around 25 homes were evacuated, and not everyone was able to gather up their pets or belongings.

"They called police, and just told us to get out and just leave everything behind," said resident Jorge Lopez. "I have digs in the house that I couldn't even get out. They're still in the house."

Workers were installing a new sewer line on South 47th Street in Richmond when they struck a gas line with a backhoe. Richmond fire officials said the contractor, Ghilotti Brothers of San Rafael, told them the gas line wasn't properly marked.

"They say the plans that they had (didn't indicate) there was a gas line at that depth, and they didn't know it was there," said Richmond Fire Department Capt. Terry Harris.

A supervisor for Ghilotti Brothers told ABC7 News that PG&E failed to mark the gas line at the spot unlike other areas that PG&E sprayed with yellow paint indicating a gas line below.

After the backhoe struck the gas line, a pungent odor filled the neighborhood.

"You would never want to smell gas in your whole life," said Jayson Montgomery. "If it happens again, I'm outta here."

The residents were allowed back in their homes around noon on Saturday. PG&E said it took about 30 minutes to reach the scene and shut off the gas.

PG&E will be investigating whether or not the gas lines were properly marked.


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