Worry Over Methane "Burps" Keeps Evacuated Residents Out of Homes

More than 100 Hawthorne residents have been waiting since last week to return to their homes after a methane leak forced evacuations

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    Residents evacuated last week from nearly 40 homes after a methane leak at an out-of-service Hawthorne well are still waiting for the go-ahead from authorities to return to their residences as crews work to seal the well.

    The leak was detected Thursday at a well near Imperial Highway and Truro Avenue, about four miles east of Los Angeles International Airport. Workers from Boots and Coots International responded to stop the flow of water and methane.

    Workers received a reading of zero methane overnight, but residents will not be allowed to return home until an "acceptable" reading is detected for a certain period of time. Residents will likely remain out of their homes until at least Wednesday as crews pump a sealing gel into the water well.

    "There's no reason to rush," said Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Brian Jordan. "We really want to get people back into their homes, but if Mother Earth burps we can be back to square one."

    Thirty-seven families were evacuated, totaling 124 people. Golden State Water Co. paid for accommodations at at hotels.

    "As a precaution, Los Angeles County officials have evacuated an area surrounding the well due to higher than normal levels of naturally occurring methane gas," Golden State Water's statement said.

    A liquor store and restaurant also were evacuated.

    Staff members at nearby Nellie's Wonderland child care center were asked to keep children inside for a second day.

    "They asked us please don't let the children out because we didn't want them them to breathe whatever was in the air, so we just kinda has us a little party inside," said owner Nellie Terry.

    On Thursday, crews were attempting to plug the retired well when the discovered an unexpected flow of water mixed with methane.

    Imperial Highway between Firmona Avenue and Inglewood Avenue remain closed. The leak prompted a full closure of the nearby 105 Freeway -- a major route to and from LAX -- Monday afternoon.

    Methane is consider an asphyxiant and can be dangerous in inhaled in confined spaces.

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