Temecula gas main rupture forces road closures, evacuations
TEMECULA — Multiple families were temporarily displaced and several streets were closed yesterday afternoon when a construction crew accidentally ruptured a gas main while working in the Redhawk area. The accident, which affected about 40 homes, happened near the intersection of Redhawk Parkway and El Chimisal Road. All displaced families were able to return to their homes a little more than six hours later, according to fire officials.
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Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, and other emergency personnel, were first notified of the gas leak shortly after 9 a.m., Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire spokesperson Tawny Cabral later explained in an incident report.
911 callers told emergency dispatchers the gas main was ruptured when contractors digging in the area struck an underground pipe with their equipment, and that gas was leaking from the ruptured main.
Eight firefighters from two engine companies responded to the site and reported finding an exterior residential gas line that had been ruptured. A battalion commander determined about 40 homes needed to be evacuated and two roads in the area, including Redhawk Parkway, needed to be temporarily closed to through traffic.
City of Temecula PD motor and patrol deputies responded to the area and assisted in going door to door in the affected area, notifying residents about the evacuations. However, of the 40 residences within the evacuated area, only a few residents were home at the time, according to Cabral, who said only six to eight people were temporarily displaced.
Pauba Valley Elementary School, which sits just 2/10th’s of a mile away, was not affected by the gas leak or evacuations and school officials were notified of the leak.
Deputies soon closed Redhawk Plwy/Vail Ranch Parkway between Nighthawk Pass and Peppercorn Dr., as well as El Chimisal Rd. at Morgan Hill Rd.
Officials summoned Southern California Gas Company to the scene and employees reportedly began making repairs around 10 a.m.
Area residents who were not affected by the evacuations reported heavy odor of gas throughout the area, with some voicing concerns on social media over the leak and potential for fire or an explosion. Some reported contacting sheriff or fire officials and being told there was no immediate danger.
Shortly before 1 p.m., Cabral updated that the repairs were continuing and firefighters would be remaining at the scene for two to three more hours, until the gas company’s repairs were completed.
Cabral later updated that the leak had been successfully mitigated and all the displaced families had been allowed to return to their homes shortly before 3:30 p.m.
There were no reported citizen or firefighter injuries related to the call and the road closures did not cause any significant reported delays; although some area residents reported being frustrated after trying to go home after work or daily activities only to be turned away.