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Well spewing methane, water in Hawthorne is partially plugged

Crews on Monday partially plugged a well in Hawthorne that had been spewing a mixture of water and methane gas for days, authorities said.

Earlier in the morning, a well-capping company pumped mud into the retired well on Imperial Highway   between Truro and Conton avenues, said Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Brian Jordan. The cap worked in stopping up to 3,000 gallons per minute of water from spilling out into the streets, but gas continues to seep through.

"We're trying to pump more mud to cover it," Jordan said. 

Officials briefly shut down a two-mile stretch of the 105 Freeway, between Crenshaw Boulevard and the 405 Freeway, for the project. A small part of Imperial Highway, between Inglewood and Firmona avenues, remained closed, said California Highway Patrol Officer Francisco Villalobos.

Crews with Golden State Water Co. on Thursday were trying to plug the retired well when they discovered an unexpected flow of water. Tests revealed that methane gas had mixed with the well water. 

"This situation and repairs have no effect on the local water supply, which continues to meet all drinking water quality standards," Patrick Scanlon, vice president of Golden State Water Co., said Monday in a statement.

Thirty-seven families in the immediate vicinity were evacuated as a precaution, Jordan said. All have been staying in a hotel since Thursday.

Golden State Water Co. hired the well-known capping company Boots & Coots International Well Control to control the mixture of high-pressure water and methane gas.

Boots & Coots "will fabricate a metal structure to secure the well valve that is under high pressure," Jordan said in a prepared statement. "After the valve is secure, forward progress will continue."

Methane gas can be deadly if inhaled in a confined space, officials said, and can cause a massive explosion if ignited.

Official are unsure what caused the leak and how long residents will be displaced.

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