Local

Gas leak capped near Fresno's Roeding Park

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A major natural gas line rupture is fixed after crews spent several hours capping the leak. Construction crews accidentally hit the line around 2:00 Thursday while they were doing work on Belmont near Delno in Central Fresno. PG&E crews capped that leak around 7:00.

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Earlier, fire crews evacuated fifty homes and businesses as they along with PG&E crews struggled to get a handle on Thursday's leak.

Thursday night, crews worked diligently patching up the site where a natural gas line ruptured several hours before.

Meanwhile, homeowner Rich Rodriguez stood cautiously outside his Central Fresno home ... still concerned about the massive leak.

"I'm kinda worried, like if they killed everything, does that mean they got to fire up the pilot lights again. I barely landed from work, so I don't know what's going on." Rodriguez said.

Construction crews accidentally punctured the nearly three inch line during a boring project. Natural gas immediately started seeping underground.

The wind then spread the gas for blocks ... forcing dozens of concerned residents out of their homes, businesses and even a section of nearby Roeding Park.

John Swimmer recalls, "They said get out as quickly as you can, you know so that's what we did."

Some asked to leave immediately thought of a recent disaster in the bay area.

"I'm kinda nervous because of san Bruno."

"I feel so sorry for the people over there."

Does that concern you more?

"Yes, that's why I was scared when he told me ... the fireman."

At one point, some areas were so toxic ... fire crews urged people to leave their cars behind ... fearing they could ignite an explosion.

Mike Despain with the Fresno Fire Department said, "The level of gas we're reading is high enough in certain areas if there was an ignition source, we could have a potential fire or explosion."

After about four hours, residents were finally allowed back inside their homes. A relief for many ... who say they feared the worst.

Mildred Swimmer said, "Kinda weird cause we still have animals at home that I worry about, but it had to happen. We didn't have time to lock our door."

One person was treated on scene today for dizziness. No other injuries were reported. PG&E says they will monitor the line for the next several days.

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