An elementary school, businesses and about 75 homes were evacuated Tuesday after a gas line ruptured under a roadway sending natural gas billowing through a National City neighborhood, officials said.
Construction crews were working outside Ira Harbison Elementary School near the intersection of 8th Street and Olive Avenue when a 6-inch gas line was ruptured at about 10:30 a.m., NCFD Chief Frank Parra said.
A cloud of white natural gas could be seen rising from a hole in the ground at the intersection for hours. Dust was being blown into the air. Construction equipment surrounded the hole, though it was not clear what type of construction was being done.
“That is a significant amount of gas that is broken and blowing right now, Parra said. “San Diego Gas & Electric emergency crews are on scene evaluating the situation, looking at dispersement patterns.”
The leak lasted several hours, and by 1:30 p.m., National City police said it would likely last several hours more. Authorities hoped to lift evacuation orders by early evening.
About 120 students were evacuated from Ira Harbison Elementary School through the north side of the school’s campus and onto Shell Avenue, where National City police were on hand to coordinate their reunification with family, Parra said.
Some parents and guardians were picking up students outside the school, like Conchita Johnson who was driving by when she smelled gas. She called the school and officials told her they were going to release the students one by one.
Other students were being loaded onto school buses to be taken to Las Palmas Elementary School about two miles away until their parents could arrive, the National City School District said.
Parra said the school — which has split students attending in-person learning into two groups due to COVID-19 precautions — alerted parents that their afternoon session would be canceled.
By about noon, homes in the area were placed under a mandatory evacuation order, according to NCPD. About 75 homes were evacuated, asl well as businesses from a nearby strip mall. A gym at the nearby Camacho Recreation Center was being utilized for displaced families, managed by the Red Cross and National City police.
Residents, drivers and pedestrians were told to avoid the area surrounding 3400 East 8th Street until further notice.
This is a developing story.
Read More: Ira Harbison Elementary Evacuated Due to Gas Leak in National City – NBC 7 San Diego