SAN DIEGO (AP) — A ruptured gas pipeline in San Diego was capped Wednesday after the leak prompted the evacuation of more than 1,000 homes and shut down a 5-mile (8-kilometer) stretch of freeway for about nine hours.
A construction worker helping with a road expansion project accidentally drilled into a 20-inch (51-centimeter) pipeline Wednesday morning near the Fashion Valley Mall in Mission Valley, San Diego Fire-Rescue spokesman Alec Phillipp said.
Witnesses said they saw gas spewing dust or dirt out of the hole and described a pungent smell that permeated the area, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
At least 1,100 homes and a handful of nearby businesses within a half-mile radius of the leak were evacuated. About 3,300 people live in that area. Authorities also closed State Route 163 between Interstate 8 and Interstate 805.
Bob and Shirley Krilowicz said they learned of the evacuation from an email sent by their apartment manager.
They left with their 106-pound Akita, Daxx. Bob Krilowicz said he walked the dog before getting in the car.
“It was really eerie,” he told the Union-Tribunes. “Usually there’s lots of people strolling around the apartments, and it was empty.”
“That’s when we noticed the smell of gas,” he said. “We got even more serious about getting out of there.”
But after bring stuck in traffic for 20 minutes, they parked the car and walked 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) to a mall.
Workers from San Diego Gas & Electric finally capped the pipeline Wednesday evening, although repairs still needed to be made. The evacuations were lifted and the freeway reopened.