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Natural gas leak prompts evacuations in Downey


A natural gas leak in Downey prompted a small evacuation Thursday after a gas main broke in a residential area, authorities said.

Downey’s fire and police departments arrived at Stewart and Gray Road and Rives Avenue at 10:32 a.m., said Tracy Gonzales, the Fire Department’s supervisor of communications.

Gonzales said it will take Southern California Gas a couple of hours to cap the leak, but people are urged to stay away from the area. A 300-foot evacuation zone was set up around the leak. It was not immediately clear how many houses or people were affected by the evacuation orders.


No injuries have been reported, but the department is providing shelter for those evacuated to shield them from the light rain, she added.

As of 1 p.m., Los Angeles County’s large vaccination site in Downey was still open and unaffected by the leak.

A broad emergency alert was issued about 12:35 p.m., notifying people to avoid the area. Gonzales said that “nothing new” had happened since the initial leak was reported and that the alert was sent out more widely than the immediate area.

SoCalGas was responsible for the largest gas leak in U.S. history in 2015, at the Aliso Canyon storage field in the San Fernando Valley. Clean-energy advocates and members of the nearby Porter Ranch community, who reported nosebleeds, headaches and other symptoms during the months-long leak, have continued to call for the facility’s closure.

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More recently, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a resolution urging state officials to shut down another SoCalGas storage field on the city’s Westside. The Playa del Rey facility has a long history of leaks, although nothing as bad as the Aliso Canyon blowout.

Natural gas is one of the main fossil fuels driving the climate crisis. It’s used for about one-third of California’s electricity generation and most of the state’s space and water heating. A growing number of cities have banned or discouraged gas hookups in new housing, a campaign that has prompted aggressive pushback from SoCalGas.

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