Residents Return To Homes After Natural Gas Leak In Hollywood

HOLLYWOOD (CNS) - Eighteen hours after a large, pressurized natural gas line burst because a utility crew hit it, gas flow was cut off and 100 evacuees were allowed to begin returning home today.

Crews were able to shut off the gas at 4:34 a.m., said spokeswoman Anne Silva of the Southern California Gas Company Four large apartment buildings in central Hollywood were evacuated overnight, and residents were given the final green light to go home from a shelter at a recreation center just after 8 a.m. Silva said crews have started working to restore service to a 46-unit apartment building at Hollywood Boulevard and Yucca Street.

"It took a lot of excavation, digging from our crews," she said. "They've been out there all night."

A Los Angeles Department of Water and Power crew struck a 6-inch natural gas line while digging about 11:30 a.m. Saturday at 1776 N. Cahuenga Blvd., on the southwest corner of the intersection of Cahuenga and Yucca Street, Erik Scott of Los Angeles Fire Department said. The markers showing where the line was located were more than three feet off, DWP spokeswoman Carol Tucker said.

The markers were placed by a company called Underground Service Alert, according to Tucker. Buildings evacuated for precautionary reasons were bounded by Franklin Avenue to the north, Ivar Avenue to the east, Wilcox Avenue to the west and Hollywood Boulevard to the south.

There was no fire and no one was injured, although a woman from one of the affected buildings was evaluated for respiratory discomfort. She did require transportation to a hospital, Scott said.

The odorized natural gas could be smelled by motorists driving by on the nearby 101 Freeway, a witness told City News Service. Crews had difficulty cutting the gas flow because they had to dig under pavement to access the line's valves, and the line itself was deeper than at first thought, according to Silva, the Gas Company spokeswoman.

Once trenches were dug, they had to be shored up before the flow of gas could be shut off, she said. Specialized work crews toiled all night.

Buses were used to shuttle residents to a shelter that the Red Cross and Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks set up at the Poinsettia Recreation Center, 7341 Willoughby Ave. Pizza, snacks and water were brought in, firefighters said. Overnight, evacuees slept on cots as the work continued. The DWP's Tucker expressed gratitude to evacuated residents for being patient.