A gas leak that prompted the overnight evacuation of an Ocean Beach community has been stopped, but the cause of the leak is still unknown, according to San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E).
By 3 p.m. Tuesday, all evacuation orders were lifted and residents were allowed to return to their homes, more than 12 hours after the initial report of a gas leak.
SDG&E crews found the source of the natural gas leak and vented gas built up in the sewer mains in the area, making the area safe again. Bacon Street was closed for a while as crews worked.
Now, workers are repairing damage to the pipeline. Once that is complete, officials will rebuild the gas meters that will be reconnected to the new gas main.
Technicians will also be visiting each house to perform a safety check of all gas appliances and re-light pilot lights. If residents are not home, technicians will leave a note with contact information.
The leak was first detected Monday night. SDG&E officials say a technician responded to the 1700 block of Bacon Street. Near a sewer cover, he tested the air and received a 70 percent gas reading.
Residents were ordered to evacuate through a public announcement from a circling helicopter Monday evening. They were warned not to turn on their stoves, light candles or smoke.
"I'm baffled at the fact that it is taking this long but safety first," said resident James Corbin. "I'd rather not have anything happen to my dog."
Residents were initially told the repair would take eight hours. The utility was able to clear the line of gas before 11 p.m. but still has not pinpointed the cause of the leak.
Early Tuesday morning, firefighters and utility workers escorted residents into their homes and sampled the air to make sure there were no explosive gas inside.
“It was a fairly large area because it was uncertain how far the gas plume had migrated,” according to a San Diego Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief.
“We’ve got to very carefully make sure there is no gas in each structure and that takes time to do,” he said.
“There is a small pocket of homes that will remain evacuated for the time being as we still have a small presence of gas in that area and we need to make sure it’s 100 percent safe,” said SDG&E Communications Director Christy Ihrig.
Electricity was also turned off to the area for approximately 380 pople while firefighters checked the area for gas. As of 3 p.m., all power had been restored.
For any residents who stayed in hotels and paid out-of-pocket expenses, they can file a claim on the SDG&E website.