City fire engines were dispatched yesterday to Crestline Drive and Portesuello Avenue after a crew doing excavation work for a fiber optic communications company accidentally cut a natural gas line underground.
Arriving on the scene at around 10 a.m., fire officials determined that a one-inch residential feeder line had been severed. The work area was cleared and, because of the leak’s location and the breezy weather at the time, residents in the area were ordered to close all windows and “shelter in place” until Southern California Gas Company could shut the line down.
According to city officials, natural gas is lighter than air and typically dissipates if conditions are right. Natural gas utility companies inject a compound called mercaptan into the colorless and odorless gas — which gives it that rotten egg smell — to alert those nearby if a leak is present.
Interstate natural gas lines, said officials, can be pressurized up to 1,500 psi. But when the gas arrives to neighborhoods and distribution networks, the pressure drops below 5 psi, and drops again to ¼ psi once it reaches homes.
The City Fire Department is urging those who plan on doing any significant digging to call the Underground Service Alert beforehand at (800) 227-2600. Representatives will come out and mark underground utility locations at no charge.