PG&E removes pipe responsible for Oakland gas leak, fire

In the Eastmont Hills in Oakland PG&E has removed the section of pipe that had a gas leak and caused a fire.
December 11, 2013 7:20:09 PM PST
PG&E has now removed the pipe responsible for Tuesday's leak and fire in Oakland. It caused a very strange site on Golf Links Road in the Eastmont Hills neighborhood -- with flames licking the asphalt and literally burning up through the ground. That faulty equipment has been turned over to a third party for inspection.

As of Wednesday night, there are homes that still don't have direct gas so PG&E is pumping in compressed methane to fuel at least six homes.

The source of the leak was found at what is described as a "steel elbow section" or a bend of the pipe at the distribution line which leads to the homes. Officials admit they still don't know what caused the break to the pipe or what started the fire, but they're doing an investigation of the entire line.

"Yesterday, I waited for an hour at the top of the hill..." said Sandra Vaughn.

Vaughn, like others in her neighborhood, was forced to either evacuate her home or shelter in place when an underground gas leak caused flames to spit up from the street.

The scene was bizarre with rows of fire stretched across the intersection of Golf Links Road and Fontaine Street. PG&E says the distribution lines running through the neighborhood, are a combination of both plastic and steel. Crews worked for more than three hours to put the fire out. On Wednesday they worked to restore full-service to about six homes, including Vaughn's.

"I don't know if it's fully resolved, or if this fully resolves it, but I think that they're taking care of it," said Vaughn.

PG&E says they found the source of the leak in a piece of steel, at a bend, or what is commonly referred to as the elbow' section of the line. They removed the broken piece, sealed the connection and turned the damaged section over to a third party for an independent investigation.

"They were there almost half the night and they're there this morning drilling. What are they drilling for? What's going on? What are you drilling for?" said Sherry Bowdry of Oakland.

This is not the first time PG&E's distribution lines have been called into question. A leaky PG&E pipe was blamed for the explosion that destroyed a single family condominium in September 2011 in Cupertino. A two-inch plastic distribution pipe feeding smaller lines was found to have more than half a dozen leaks. PG&E told ABC7 News the distribution pipes involved in the gas leak are completely different.

"The pipeline that was involved in Cupertino is what we call Adelaide piping and there was a recall on that many decades ago. We have some of that in our system, but we're monitoring that daily," said Brittany Chord, a PG&E spokesperson.

According to PG&E, none of the pipe in this system is from the discontinued batch. PG&E expects to have their investigation into the Oakland fire completed in about 30 days.


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