What to Know
- The latest estimate for capping the leak is sometime Thursday afternoon or evening.
- About 320 addresses west of downtown and near the SAP Center were impacted.
- Residents living on Park Avenue between Meridian and Lincoln avenues, were told to report to PG&E's customer support unit sprinter van located at 1098 Park Avenue before they were cleared to return home.
More than a day after a gas leak in the area of Race Street and Park Avenue prompted evacuation orders in San Jose, hundreds of residents were being cleared to return home Thursday night as PG&E tried to cap multiple ruptured lines.
The San Jose Fire Department tweeted late Thursday night, most residents were cleared to return home.
Meanwhile, fire officials said residents that were located on Park Avenue between Meridian and Lincoln avenues were still not able to return home.
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Instead, those residents were told to report to PG&E's customer support unit sprinter van located at a laundromat at 1098 Park Avenue before they were cleared to return home.
The target time for capping the leak was extended three times Thursday morning and the latest estimate was sometime Thursday night, officials said. Initially, PG&E said the leak would be capped by midnight then that was pushed back to 8 a.m. and then again to noon. Shortly after 6 p.m., PG&E said orders would remain in effect into the late evening and by 11 p.m., evacuations were still in order.
PG&E said the leak involves more than one gas line, and that is delaying the repair time.
According to PG&E officials, a third-party contractor, not affiliated with the utility company, struck an 8-inch steel gas line where it intersects with a 12-inch gas line with mechanical equipment at 9:54 a.m. Wednesday, causing the leak.
“In this case, the third party contractor decided to use mechanical equipment in a marked area which is very dangerous,” said Mayra Tostado, PG&E spokesperson. “Because you don’t have full control of the equipment you’re using. That’s why you’re required to use hand tools so you can avoid striking a line.”
The gas leak triggered a sizable evacuation zone west of downtown San Jose near SAP Center. PG&E notified the impacted residents of evacuations, which were in place within a 900-foot radius of the leak. According to the San Jose Fire Department, about 320 addresses were impacted.
The Bascom Community Center, located at 1000 S Bascom Ave, was opened as a shelter for anyone who was evacuated.
The city of San Jose and the American Red Cross worked pretty quickly to set up the Bascom Community Center as a shelter. Through the course of the night, about 100 people went to the shelter for food and a place safe to stay.
Some residents like Joseph Suffoletti were able to leave with only the essentials.
Suffoletti told NBC Bay Area that he managed to get his two dogs out.
“So, it's not that bad. It's not like it's a day or two, and it's not like a disaster fire or people dying, the house is burning and there are floods. It's only, you know, get out of your house,” he said.
PG&E crews were quickly sent to the neighborhood along with trying to get to the damaged gas line to cap it. They also had to dig several holes in the area to vent the leaked gas.
The owner of Hill’s Florist on Race Street said closing down for almost two days is devastating.
“Our shop is kind of a small business,” said Emily. “And we survive through the COVID, now, just another couple of days. I don’t know how we're gonna deal with this. It’s gonna be a big deal for us.”