A two-block residential area of Palmdale was evacuated this morning after a heavy grader working on a road-widening project punctured a high-pressure natural gas line, sending a noxious-smelling gas into the air.
Southern California Gas workers spent three hours unsuccessfully trying to clamp off the rupture, which occurred about 7:30 a.m. at 10th Street West and Beechdale Drive.
A gas company worker suffered a minor leg injury when the gas blew the clamp off the pipe at one point. Workers nearby wore earplugs to help block the roaring sound of the gushing gas.
At 12:15, workers prepared to shut off the flow of the six- inch distribution line. Gas company District Manager Colleen Walker said workers tried at first to clamp the line because shutting it down would leave an estimated 1,000 homes without gas.
Walker said it could take the gas company several days to restore service to that many homes. As of noontime, only about 40 of the evacuated homes and several apartment buildings in the area had their gas shut off as a precautionary measure. No evacuation center had been established.
Walker said the leak in the gas line, pressurized to more than 10 times those running into homes, posed a threat of an explosion and fireball. But county fire department officials said the danger was decreased because a strong breeze was dissipating the fumes.