Neighbors, businesses react to gas leak evacuations

Neighbors, businesses react to gas leak evacuations

REDDING, Calif. - Some sense of normalcy returned to downtown Redding on Friday morning after parts were shut down for more than 10 hours Thursday night.

Downtown streets north of Tehama Street to Eureka Way were closed and people were evacuated after a natural gas line was ruptured by crews working on a sewer line right next to Shasta Regional Medical Center.

The hospital was not evacuated but people in the hospital closest to the break were moved to other areas and incoming patients were taken to Mercy Medical Center.

Crews from multiple agencies worked together to mitigate the problem.

Redding Fire Battalion Chief Steve Reilly said situations like the one Thursday night are what his department trains for.

When the rupture was called in just after 9 p.m. crews jumped into action.

On Friday morning Reilly explained the dangers of the break.

"Natural gas is highly flammable, it's lighter than air, it'll migrate straight up," Reilly said.

With the risk, it was a race to protect the area north of Tehama Street.

Anje Johnson, who lives on the corner of Liberty and Eureka Way, was evacuated.

"The cops came and were pounding on the doors and flashlights were running through. It was kind of nerve wracking very much," said Johnson.

"You could smell the gas very badly," she continued.

Businesses were affected too.

Mary's Pizza Shack on East Street still had customers eating inside.

When the warning came, they were given seconds to get out.

"When our manager said to him I think we need about five minutes to get ready and clean up the fire marshal said absolutely not, you don't have five minutes," said human resources manager Angela Cordell.

The rush, warranted.

Back in 2010 a natural gas pipe burst in San Bruno, leveling a neighborhood.

Chief Reilly said while that line was much larger than the one on Tehama Street, precautions are crucial.

"This is one of those scenarios that we do train for routinely and we do train for with multiple agencies and it worked very well last night," said Reilly.

No one was hurt.

Both Cordell and Johnson said while there were a lot of unknowns at the time of the break they were thankful for the evacuations and warnings from officials.

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