A loose fitting on PG&E gas pipeline caused a substantial gas leak in Colusa on Thursday, knocking out gas service to 22 customers and necessitating the evacuation of eight nearby homes. According to PG&E, the fitting – which connected a four-inch to a two-inch pipe – was located in a gas vault (an underground enclosure) that was covered by a steel plate, in an area where they were doing a gas pipeline replacement project. PG&E said that a chunk of concrete broke off and fell onto the fitting, causing it to come loose.
“The fitting was loose, enough to cause a leak,” said Paul Moreno, marketing and communications principal at PG&E.
Colusa City Fire Chief Logan Conley said that firefighters were dispatched to a report of a possible gas leak near the intersection of 4th Street and Clay Street at about 7:39 AM on Thursday, and arrived on scene just three minutes later. After notifying PG&E, firefighters worked to check residences and evacuate anyone in the area who was at home at that time.
“About eight homes were evacuated,” Conley said. “Everybody else was already gone.”
The fire department notified PG&E of a gas odor in that vicinity at around 8 AM, Moreno said.
At around 10:30 AM, gas could be heard roaring out from the leak from a block away. Law enforcement and fire personnel had set up a roughly one-block perimeter around the leak at that time.
Moreno could not provide a time of arrival, but said that upon responding, PG&E immediately began working to shut the gas off, which ultimately happened at around 11:13 AM, he said. The evacuation order was lifted shortly thereafter, although law enforcement personnel remained on scene for another hour for traffic control.
“Generally, we dig down on either side of the leak and then we squeeze the pipe on either side of where the leak is occurring,” Moreno said. “… Our first priority is to make the situation safe and work to restore gas service to our customers.”
Moreno added that PG&E began restoring service to customers at around 5 PM.
Moreno could not offer an estimate on the volume of gas that leaked, saying that PG&E typically doesn’t release that information. ■