Gas leak leads to evacuation in downtown SLO and jlavelle@thetribunenews.comOctober 11, 2013 

  • Gas leak

    A gas leak was reported Friday afternoon at Marsh and Nipomo streets in downtown San Luis Obispo.

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A ruptured gas line at a construction site in downtown San Luis Obispo midday Friday shut down surrounding businesses and stopped traffic for more than two hours.

The high-pressure gas leak, which went uncontained for more than an hour, was reportedly caused when a backhoe hit the 2-inch gas line during a construction project at Marsh and Nipomo streets.

The sound of the gas hissing, described by those up close as similar to the roar of a jet engine, could be heard more than a block away and could be smelled even further, according to witnesses.

Firefighters evacuated the area and closed Nipomo between Higuera and Pacific streets, and Marsh Street near the intersection with Nipomo Street until Southern California Gas Co. workers were able to cap the leak around 4 p.m.

San Luis Obispo fire Chief Garret Olson said the clear weather and wind aided the situation by allowing the gas to rise and not pool in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Rochelle Silsbee, spokeswoman for Southern California Gas Co., said there is an investigation to determine what led to the accident.

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