Gas Leak Prompts Evacuations, Short-Term Closure of 101 Freeway in Newbury Park

The rupture of a 10-inch distribution line was contained after 3 1/2 hours

By Melissa Pamer and Lolita Lopez
|  Wednesday, May 29, 2013  |  Updated 10:34 PM PDT
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Evacuations were ordered and the 101 Freeway was temporarily shut down after a major gas leak in the Newbury Park area of Ventura County Wednesday. Dozens of residents were forced out of their homes for more than four hours. Lolita Lopez reports from Newbury Park for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on May 29, 2013.

Lolita Lopez, Dennis Lahti

Evacuations were ordered and the 101 Freeway was temporarily shut down after a major gas leak in the Newbury Park area of Ventura County Wednesday. Dozens of residents were forced out of their homes for more than four hours. Lolita Lopez reports from Newbury Park for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on May 29, 2013.

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Evacuations were ordered and the 101 Freeway was temporarily shut down as crews worked to repair a natural gas line rupture in the Newbury Park area of Ventura County on Wednesday.

The Ventura County Fire Department said hazardous materials units responded to the gas leak near Newbury and Haigh roads just after 10 a.m.. The Gas Co. was also on scene, working to find the leak in front of a dive bar called Akrey's Tavern that apparently had recently closed (map).

Gas Co. officials said a construction crew working nearby had caused the rupture in a 10-inch distribution line, which was eventually contained at about 1:30 p.m., according to the fire department. The immediate area remained sealed off into late afternoon for repairs.

Evacuations were lifted and residents were allowed to go back in about 2:30 p.m. Some complained of a strong odor.

Just after noon, Ventura County Fire Capt. Mike Lindberry had said utility officials were trying to determine where to turn off the flow of gas, which he said was considerable.

"Our main concern is isolating the area from any potential ignition source. We have quite a bit of gas product coming out of that line right now," Linberry said.

The most potential hazard was in the immediate area of the leak, he said. Minimal wind allowed the plume to rise and dissipate, he added.

Workers in protective gear appeared to be investigating an area near a collection of mobile homes that had been torn down, leaving only their foundations, aerial video showed. The workers were digging into a narrow well-type structure in the ground in front of the shuttered bar.

Evacuations had been in effect from Lynn Road to Ventu Park and the 101 Freeway. Ten people had been evacuated to a temporary shelter at the La Quinta Inn; most other residents were being advised to remain indoors and shelter in place.

California Highway Patrol officials said the 101 Freeway was temporarily closed -- southbound lanes at Ventu Park Road and northbound lanes at Lynn Road. 

The freeway was reopened just after 11:15 a.m. after firefighters "evaluated the risk," according to the fire department.

Several surface roads were closed in the area.


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