The leak forced the evacuation of about 100 homes east of Corral Hollow Road.
“We got the call for a gas leak at 9:04 a.m.,” said Tracy Fire Department Capt. Mike Oliveri. “A construction crew had hit the gas line, and when we arrived we could hear it hissing. It was 20 feet from a house in a ravine area.”
Concerned with the gas flowing into the atmosphere and into adjacent neighborhoods, Oliveri said firefighters and police officers went door-to-door to evacuate residents in the blocks immediately east of Corral Hollow Road.
The evacuation area, he said, was between Corral Hollow Road, Grant Line Road, Golden Springs Drive and Interstate 205, with two additional homes on Turnstone Street.
“Our primary concern was Clearbrook Court, Kavanagh Avenue and Woodcrest Court, because the leak was so strong,” Oliveri said.
Firefighters arranged for Jacobson Elementary School, 1750 Kavanagh Ave., to be used as an evacuation station for local residents with the cooperation of school principal, Cindy Sasser. Sixteen residents reportedly went to the school’s multipurpose room until they were allowed back into their homes around 11:30 a.m.
Some residents said they were awoken by news of the gas leak.
“I heard a knocking at the door, and there was a firefighter,” Ethan Padilla said, who lives on Meadow Brook Lane with his mother and younger brother. “He said, ‘You’ve got to get out. There’s a gas leak.’ He told us to turn off the air conditioner, close the windows and go to the Jacobson School.”
Padilla’s mother, Adrienne, said she could smell a strong odor of gas inside her house, and it got stronger when they went outside.
“At first I was really nervous,” she said. “We had to leave our cat behind, because we couldn’t find the carrier.”
According to Pacific Gas and Electric Co. spokeswoman Nicole Liebelt, the construction crew helping with the widening of Corral Hollow Road hit a marked gas line while installing street lights. She said PG&E crews were notified and capped the leak on the damaged pipe. Repairs were expected to be completed later Wednesday.
Notification of the gas leak was sent online to subscribers of Nixle, a free online service that allows police dispatchers to notify the public of emergencies or community events.
Tracy Fire Department Capt. Steve Hanlon said the Nixle service is good because it can notify residents more quickly than traditional methods, since more people rely on cell phones and few have access to a landline. The notification can be sent to residents by email or text, he said.
Crime Scene Investigations Unit Supervisor Fred Kelley, who oversees the Nixle service at Tracy Police Department, tallied 253 subscribers. He said it’s a handy tool that has been used in the past to notify the public about police pursuits, fires and road closures.
Residents can sign up for the service on the Tracy Police Department website by clicking on CrimeWatch and the cell phone icon.