Homes evacuated in San Luis Obispo because of gas leak caused by punctured pipeline

Gas leak in San Luis Obispo.
Gas leak in San Luis Obispo. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

The Guzman family of San Luis Obispo spent about six hours Tuesday as refugees in their own town.

After being displaced in the afternoon from their Loomis Street home in San Luis Obispo because of a gas leak, the Guzmans were allowed to return to their home.

Six family members, along with people evacuated from seven other homes on Loomis Street earlier Tuesday, were given the go-ahead to return home around 8:30 p.m., said Timothy Mahoney, a representative of Southern California Gas Co.

The homes were evacuated Tuesday afternoon in the 1900 block of Loomis Street after contract workers punctured a gas line owned by The Gas Company while trying to replace a sewer line, causing fumes that smelled like rotten eggs to leak.

“We were just relaxing in our home when all the fire trucks came, and it started to smell really bad,” Jose Guzman said in Spanish. “We knew it was dangerous.”

Several San Luis Obispo Fire Department and city Utilities Department officials helped evacuate the residents and monitor the situation.

The leak was reported about 2:30 p.m., and Gas Company officials were called to contain it.

Fire officials stood by to make sure no explosions were caused by concentrations of gas, said Chris Slate, a Fire Department battalion chief.

Workers with The Gas Company took several hours to repair the 3-inch gap in the pipe, said Gary Henderson, a spokesman for the city’s Utilities Department.

Gas Company workers sealed the breached gas line just after 8:30 p.m., Mahoney said.

“Our gas is under control,” he said.

Cal Poly students Dan Leitner and John Waldrop said they heard about the emergency and immediately went home from school to grab a few personal items before being evacuated.

“We don’t really know where we’re staying tonight,” Leitner said at the time. “We’re just waiting to see what they tell us.”

Fire officials called the local chapter of the Red Cross to see whether they could help provide shelter.

However, the neighborhood evacuation was lifted after the gas line was repaired, Mahoney said.

Guzman family members said they’re glad to be safe. In addition to the six who stood on the street Tuesday, two others were away from the home at the time.

“It’s good to make sure nobody gets hurt,” Jose Guzman said. “We’re glad so many people are here to help.”