Hwy 99 reopens after a Madera County gas leak

FRESNO, Calif.

Authorities rushed to the area of Highway 99 and Avenue 12 after getting reports of a large gas leak Friday morning. The CHP shut down a stretch of 99 and surrounding roads, which caused traffic to back up for miles. Meanwhile, deputies worked to evacuate 15 homes and 8 businesses.

Erica Stuart said, "The concern right now is we have to evacuate a half mile radius, including a migrant school where there's seven children, and 19 total with adults in there, and we also have some people stuck at the valero station that we've got to get them out."

The owner of a 7-11 says deputies told him to close up shop, but he didn't want to leave until he had no choice.

"We wanted to stay, they said just stay outside, if they need to evacuate they took a head count, the sheriff's department," Kal Brar said. "And they said just stay outside here if they need to evacuate they we're going to have to leave."

Authorities say a piece of heavy equipment accidentally ruptured the 12 inch gas transmission line. The leak created a loud sound for hours.

Denny Boyles said, "Gas moves through these lines at a very high pressure, and it is a sound very similar to a jet engine."

Despite all the commotion, PG&E officials say the leak never created a significant safety risk.

Boyles added, "Natural gas actually dissipates very quickly in the atmosphere, but we understand the precaution and we're going to go along with the precaution of evacuating the area and closing the freeway."

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