Gas leak triggers street closures, evacuations

Southern California Gas Company workers successfully stemmed the flow of natural gas from the ruptured gas line on Chevy Chase Drive shortly after 2 p.m., said Gas Company spokesman Raul Gordillo.

The street, which had been closed between Descanso Drive and Berkshire Avenue, was reopened.

About 20 Gas Company customers near the site remain without service as crews continue to repair the 3-inch gas main line. Full service should be restored by Thursday evening, Gordillo said.

(UPDATE: 5 p.m.)

Southern California Gas Company workers are struggling to seal a natural gas pipeline on Chevy Chase Drive that was punctured Thursday morning by a contractor digging in the street with a backhoe.

The rupture prompted the closure of Chevy Chase Drive between Descanso Drive and Berkshire Avenue. A portion of Hamsptead Road is also closed. And seven homes were evacuated because of the risk of an explosion, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Scott Gibson said.

"It was pretty high pressure, it was permeating the whole area with natural gas," Gibson said.

Los Angeles County fire crews, including a hazmat team, are on scene ready with fire retardant foam in case a fire should ignite.

The punctured occurred at about 9:50 a.m., Gibson said, when a contractor doing electrical work dug into the street using a backhoe. Gas could be smelled in a two block radius of the site. Technicians, wearing full protective gear, worked into the early afternoon to clamp the 3-inch pipe. The age of the pipe, however, was making it difficult for workers to seal it off, Gibson said.

The leak was causing minor traffic congestion as residents were turned away from Chevy Chase Drive and Hampstead Road.

"We are going to keep that road closed into the evening because there is going to have be construction crews there working on the road to permanently fix it," Gibson said.

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