Santa Barbara County fire crews had to act quickly today to stop a natural gas leak caused by a backhoe that ruptured a main while replacing water pipes beneath the 6500 block of Pardall Road. This particular road is Isla Vista’s main thoroughfare leading into campus and where most of the community’s businesses are located.
Firefighters arrived in I.V. at 11:19 a.m. today and determined that, in fact, a large volume of gas was spilling out from the pipe at a rate of 40 PSI (pounds per square inch of pressure). Some crews evacuated the area around road, shutting down approximately 30 businesses for the day, as a source of fire could have ignited the gas and caused an explosion. According to a report of the incident from County Fire spokesman Eli Iskow, firefighters “foamed” an area around 40 feet in diameter – including the street, sidewalk, ground and a nearby parking lot – in order to prevent a static electrical charge from igniting the gas. (In the photos Iskow submitted, the foam is the bubbling matter seen on the ground.) Eventually, workers from the Southern California Gas Company arrived a closed the leak around 12:45 p.m. by using hydraulic pressure tools.
Iskow noted that while no injuries resulted from the incident, certain businesses will not be able to reopen until gas service is restored.