In Dinuba, a major gas leak was repaired late Wednesday night allowing the road to be reopened and people who had been evacuated to return to their homes. The rupture of the 4-inch main line happened around 1 pm. It took crews until 9:30 pm to finally shut the gas off.
It occurred on Avenue 416 between Road 72 and Monte Vista.
Folks in Dinuba heard a loud noise for the better part of nine hours Wednesday after a scraper performing road work on Avenue 416 ruptured the high pressure line. It caused a constant flow of natural gas to shoot straight up into the air.
“Actually it’s a great thing because we know exactly what it’ s doing. It’s venting to the atmosphere,” said Colby Wells of Southern California Gas Company.
Firefighters cordoned off a 1,000 ft. radius and evacuated 52 homes, an apartment complex and 8 businesses.
“Our first concern is the safety of the citizens and keeping everybody safe, keeping the firefighters safe. Making sure there is not a possible ignition source,” said Dinuba Fire Chief Chad Thompson.
Close to 150 people were impacted. However, only about 20 showed up to the Dinuba Community Center, which served as a destination for evacuees. Volunteers with the Red Cross were on hand to make their stay as comfortable as possible.
“We’ve got food and water, chairs and there’s a TV going in one of the rooms and some of the kids are on the playground out back,” said Marty Houk of the American Red Cross.
Crews with Southern California Gas Company had a big task on their hands to try and isolate the damaged line.
“Just think of a giant spider web under the ground. When you interact with one it sends gas somewhere else,” said Wells.
After studying maps they chose to dig a hole at the intersection of 416 and Monte Vista. A good control point to avoid disrupting service to other customers.
“We don’t just want to go around shutting valves because if you do that, you end up dropping a large section of the town needlessly,” said Wells.
The fact that experienced contractors caused this accident is what Colby Wells says is a bit of a surprise.
“This does not happen a lot with these high pressure lines because they do take the time to mark them and they know where they’re at,” said Wells.
The gas company will now conduct an investigation to see if the contractor should be held accountable for the damage.