Gas line rupture at San Francisco homeless shelter sends 14 to hospital

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Sixteen people were treated after a gas line rupture next to a homeless shelter on Monday. It was first reported around 11 a.m., with gas leaking from the alley near the Next Door Episcopal Community Services shelter.

According to the fire department, construction workers are to blame.

Several ambulances arrived at Geary and Polk streets in San Francisco to help people who were complaining of dizziness and nausea after the gas pipeline was accidentally ruptured.

Emergency crews responded quickly to those suffering from the effects of a gas leak ear the shelter. Patients were triaged and treated based on the severity of their condition.

"They told us to evacuate the building," said homeless shelter staff member Renee Owens. "I'm lightheaded and my daughter is coming to get me a take me home."

Fourteen people were so ill, they had to be taken to local hospitals. Two others were treated and released. All of them were either workers or clients of the shelter.

It didn't take long to determine the culprit -- construction workers in the alley next to the shelter.

"Upon arrival, they discovered that a construction company had punctured a 2-inch gas main on the street and there was a heavy smell of gas," said Jose Velo, Division Chief with the San Francisco Fire Department.

"Just stank, stank like gas, so somebody came through with a trusty mask for me, it's still stinking out here," said staff member Gary Jones.

According to a spokesperson for the San Francisco Police Department, PG&E crews were quickly on scene and managed to clamp the line within 35 minutes. The area was cordoned off for several hours after the incident.

People were eventually allowed back inside after the building was inspected and the alley assessed to make sure there were no pockets of gas.

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