Updated at 10 p.m. Jan. 24
Gas service has been fully restored to Chestnut Avenue residents after a construction crew working on a sewer line struck a 2-inch steel gas line earlier in the day, causing a gas leak and an evacuation of surrounding homes, a PG&E spokesman said.
The gas line break caused a small panic because it brought back memories of the September 2010 pipeline explosion in the Crestmoor neighborhood. But the gas distribution pipe break was quite different from the explosion and in a different neighborhood—near —and it was contained quickly.
The Fire Department evacuated about 20 homes on the surrounding streets at about 1:50 p.m. when PG&E received a report that a third-party construction project caused the gas leak on the 500 block of Chestnut Avenue.
City Manager Connie Jackson confirmed that a city wastewater crew was doing the sewer work and operating a backhoe when it punctured the pipeline.
The gas leak was stopped at about 2:15 p.m., PG&E said.
Many residents were allowed back in their homes shortly after, and many people arrived home to find PG&E workers doing repair work on their street as most of them weren’t around when the gas line break happened.
PG&E kept the gas off for six homes surrounding the gas line break for several hours while workers were repairing the line, said spokesman J.D. Guidi. At about 7:30 p.m., PG&E workers went to each home and manually relighted their gas pilots, Guidi said.
While the Crestmoor explosion was a rare, tragic accident for which PG&E is still being scrutinized, the rupture on Chestnut Avenue is actually very common.
The vast majority of pipeline accidents throughout the country are caused by third-party damage, typically when someone excavates too close to a pipeline without notifying the pipeline operator, according to the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America.
Jackson didn’t say whether there would be any further investigation into what caused the gas leak on Chestnut.