Fresno gas leak may cost contractor near 30k

FRESNO, Calif.

The Fresno fire chief and PG&E crews say the area of Shaw will be closed through Saturday. Also a subcontractor from Sacramento is being held liable, and will likely be charged for the entire response to this natural gas leak, fire crews, and PG&E crews, and even the loss of income for many of the Shaw area businesses.

PG&E crews say it happened at Shaw Avenue and Fourth Street. The subcontractor was digging underneath Shaw when he punctured a steel pipe. Investigators say the man who was doing the digging for Atazz Technical Services did not have clearance and did not follow procedure for the type of work he was doing.

Denny Boyles, PG&E spokesperson said, "They had a tag that had expired at the end of February for some work in a different area close by, there were several procedures that needed to do this work safely and to prevent this type of incident."

Crews say the release of natural gas would have sounded like a jet engine and is extremely dangerous and it could have been disastrous. Similar to what happened in Kansas City about a month ago.

Fresno Fire Chief Rob Brown said, "In a situation like this, if this gas had escaped into the sewer line it could come up in someone's home they wouldn't even know it and flipping a light switch could be a potential ignition source."

Fire crews had no choice but to evacuate more than 300 homes and businesses in and around the Shaw Avenue and Fourth street area. PG&E crews are working to both repair the complicated leak-and verify that it's safe to let people back into their homes.

In the meantime, the bill is adding up. Fire crews say their tally is above $30,000.

The owner of "New City Chinese Cuisine" tells Action News Reporter Linda Mumma the outage couldn't have happened at a worse time.

Her restaurant just opened for the first time about a month ago and she says dim sum on a Friday afternoon happens to be the busiest lunch hour of the entire week.

Without the ability to open she expects to lose thousands of dollars in business and is worried she won't be able to open again tomorrow if power isn't restored by tomorrow morning.

Young said, "We didn't expect to happen like this, you know? There's nothing we can do right now, right? So hopefully they get it done soon."

More than two dozen businesses were evacuated and workers were sent home while PG&E crews located the source of the leak and made repairs to the pipeline.

One of the biggest employers impacted in the area is Aetna. The healthcare and insurance company employs somewhere between 600 to 1,000 people.

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