Businesses affected from Fresno gas leak

March 16, 2013 12:52:01 AM PDT
According to PG&E, power has been restored to all but two of the more than 300 homes and businesses affected by the gas leak in Northeast Fresno.

Spokesperson Denny Boyles said crews went door-to-door to determine whether it was safe at each individual location to turn the electricity back on.

Power had been knocked out to dozens of businesses along Shaw Avenue early Friday morning, after authorities said a contractor from Atazz Technical Services in Sacramento, did not properly notify the "call before you dig" service and did not follow proper procedures during their digging, which damaged a 6-inch steel pipeline.

New restaurant owner Yuxian Young said the outage couldn't have happened at a worse time. Her business, New City Chinese Cuisine, just opened February first and she said the Friday lunch hour is the busiest time of the entire week.

"Really disappointed because I don't know what to do because my worker show up soon. I have to pay them, right?" said Young.

A group of them sat in a dark dining room waiting for the lights to turn on. Meantime, other businesses like the Valero Bulldog Gas & Mart also took a financial hit. Owner Kang Singh said Friday is Delivery day for most of his food and beverage vendors. Instead of taking in new shipments for the weekend, he and his wife had to turn several trucks away. They also had to throw out hundreds of dollars-worth of perishable foods such as milk and ice cream.

"It's a big loss, especially on the gas part, the food part. It's hard to recover," said Singh.

Dozens of offices were also evacuated Friday morning, when police closed a section of Shaw Avenue between Fist and Sixth, while utility crews rushed to repair the pipeline.

One of the biggest employers, Aetna Healthcare and Insurance, sent home between 600 and 1,000 workers. By noon time Friday, the parking lot was empty.

Mike Snell of the nearby California Teaching Fellows Foundation told Action News, he found out about the closure and evacuation order around 6:45 a.m., but still showed up to work in case his office reopened later that morning.

"I was trying to do two things on my way to work. My cat, Crookshanks, isn't feeling well. I was trying to bring him to the vet, but he's going to have to go to another hospital because the cat hospital is also closed," he said.

Boyles said eastbound traffic along Shaw Ave. would open sometime Friday night, but the westbound lanes would remain closed until PG&E is finished fixing the damaged pipeline. He said that would likely happen sometime Saturday.

In the meantime, he said, the contractor responsible for the gas leak could be held responsible for the loss in revenue to area businesses.

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