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Irvine homes, school evacuated because of natural gas leak

May 2, 2012 |  6:29 pm

About 100 homes and a school in Irvine were evacuated Wednesday while workers repaired a ruptured natural gas line, police and fire officials said.

Orange County Fire Authority personnel were dispatched about 11:30 a.m. to Portola Parkway and Yale Avenue, where a construction crew accidentally dug through an 8-inch gas line, department spokesman Capt. Marc  Stone said.

There were no reports of illness or injuries. But fire personnel decided that Northwood High School should be evacuated due to its proximity to the site, Stone said.

Students who had cars were allowed to go home and the rest were escorted to the nearby Orchard Hills Village Center to wait for their parents, said Ian Haniga, spokesman for the Irvine Unified School District.

“Out of an abundance of caution,” Canyon View Elementary School went into a “soft lockdown,” meaning that students remained indoors until it was time to go home, Haniga said.

The homes were evacuated when the wind changed direction, Stone said. About six people spent several hours at an evacuation center at Woodbury Community Park, Lt. Julia Engen of the Irvine Police Department said.

Traffic was blocked in both directions on Portola Parkway between Orchard Hills and Culver Drive while Southern California Gas Co. personnel worked on the line.

Gas company officials could not immediately be reached for comment. But Engen said the leak was pinched off about 5:15 p.m. Police were reopening all eastbound lanes but planned to keep one westbound lane closed for one more hour, she said.

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-- Alexandra Zavis

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