Gas leak sparks safety concerns

REDDING, Calif. - The smell of natural gas in the air was faint with the wind wafting it out of a north Redding neighborhood Wednesday morning. But Redding firefighters and PG&E crews tackled this gas leak the same way they do with any potentially dangerous situation – cautiously.

Fire crews quickly went to work getting people out of the nearby fourplexes on Valleyridge Road.

Underground, a half-inch gas line, next to the gas meters, had been hit and was spewing the very flammable gas into the air.

"When we arrived, we made contact with a contractor who said he struck a gas line with his backhoe," explained Redding Fire Department's Battalion Chief Cullen Kreider.

"Sounds like the contractor was doing some drainage work in the area and unfortunately hit a service line to the four-plex … in this case, I don't think the gas had been marked," Kreider said.

PG&E crews capped off the leak, and then set to work replacing the damaged pipe.

"Gas is flammable. It is a source of energy and safety precautions need to be taken," explained Paul Moreno, spokesperson for PG&E.

Nothing went awry during Wednesday's gas leak, but the potential for an explosion when natural gas is escaping a damaged line is a real danger.

"If you do smell gas or hear gas escaping or have any other concerns regarding a potential gas leak - get out of the building. Warn others. Call 911," said Moreno.

A natural gas leak smell should be easy to detect. The gas gives off a rotten egg odor.

Before doing home improvement projects, PG&E reminds everyone to ‘know what's bellow. Call before you dig' – so people don't gamble with their safety.

Calling 8-1-1 at least two days before a project, even when planting a tree in the backyard, crews can then come out and mark all underground utilities. Highlighting hidden pipes and cables before ground work gets going helps so no underground gas lines get nicked.

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