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Porter Ranch residents celebrate stop of leak but remain cautious

For months, thousands of residents of Porter Ranch have been forced from their homes amid a massive gas leak that many say made them sick.

On Thursday, they got their first ray of hope. Southern California Gas Co. announced it has temporarily controlled the flow of gas from a well near Porter Ranch. A permanent fix could be hours or days away.

Porter Ranch resident Pat Pope said he was cautiously optimistic that the leak would be capped.

“I would think that if this doesn’t work, it would be really ugly,” Pope said.

Even if the leak is capped in the coming days, Porter Ranch residents worry they won’t be safe in their own homes.

“At our neighborhood council meeting last night, people were concerned about: did the mercaptans or the methane get into their furniture, get into their carpeting, their drapes? They want assurances,” he said.

For months, Chatsworth resident Amy Masliah has lived in a hotel so she can escape the odorants, which cause her eyes to water and her nose to run. She can’t wait for officials with the Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources to confirm the leak has stopped.

“I miss my beautiful home. I really do. I have a garden that’s paradise to me,” Masliah said. “I want to go back home so bad.

“It’s really hard to trust anybody right now. Once they confirm that the air is clean enough for us to go back to our home, that my home is not contaminated, then I will feel much better,” she said.

It’s a moment of celebration, though there is still a lot of work ahead, said Paula Cracium, president of the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council.

“It changes from a controlling the crisis to now navigating recovery. Homeowners have been injured. Property values have been injured. There’s going to be a version of PTSD as they get a whiff of any odor in their home,” Cracium said.

In anticipation of the news, residents have been lobbying politicians and regulators to coordinate in determining whether it is safe to move home.

“Most of the families in the community are very excited to get back, but they will not be distracted by the leak stoppage. They still want to know that their homes are safe,” Cracium said.

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