Southern California

Gas Line Fire Triggers Evacuations in Woodland Hills Neighborhood

A natural gas line was ruptured Wednesday by a backhoe in Woodland Hills, sparking a fire that engulfed the construction vehicle and prompting some precautionary evacuations.

Firefighters were sent to the 5800 block of North Shoup Avenue about 1:15 p.m., said Margaret Stewart of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Fire department and Southern California Gas Co. officials said the damaged pipe is a 4-inch line.

The Gas Co. reported the line was damaged during a "third party excavation" and that a crew from the utility responded and dug "control holes" to control the flow of gas, a process Stewart said was completed by 3:52 p.m. Once the flow of gas was stemmed, the flames died down.

The backhoe was being used by a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power crew installing an 8-inch fire-service line to an adjacent property when the gas line was ruptured.

When the flames were raging, firefighters sprayed water on the conflagration from a distance to keep the blaze from igniting nearby trees and buildings. No injuries were reported, but police said that "lookie loos" were ignoring the danger and trying to get to the area as utility crews and firefighters were at work.

Gas Company officials again urged residents to call 811 before digging to prevent damage to underground utility lines. DWP officials said all scheduled underground construction done by the agency is approved in advance "and occurs only after utility lines are marked by the utility owner, or its contracted entity.

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At this time, the incident is under investigation to determine why the gas line was struck."

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