Punctured gas line prompts evacuations, street closures in Winchester area

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WINCHESTER (CNS) – A gas main ruptured by a construction crew prompted the evacuation of a large condominium complex and street closures for roughly three hours Monday in Winchester.

The damaged line was reported shortly before 10 a.m. in the area of Whisper Heights Parkway and Winchester Road, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

Southern California Gas Co. spokesman Adam Eventov told City News Service that a crew was digging at the site and punctured the four-inch line, causing natural gas to escape. No one was injured.

A fire department spokeswoman said firefighters implemented precautionary evacuations of more than 100 condos because of the potential fire hazard.

California Highway Patrol officers were also summoned to shut down Winchester, between Whisper Heights and Algarve Avenue, as well as side streets, including Alicante Loop, Mirabella Court and Skyview Road, according to the fire department.

Eventov said technicians “got everything under control” by 1:07 p.m. and were in the process of making permanent repairs to the broken line.

The evacuations and street closures were lifted shortly after 1 p.m.

“We tell everybody all the time, please call 811 before you dig, so you know whether you’re in the vicinity of a gas line,” Eventov said.

A little more than a year ago, a Southern California Gas Co. technician was killed and 15 people were injured in a natural gas line explosion that leveled a home in a Murrieta residential neighborhood.

Jeff Pack contributed to this report.