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Downtown Returns to Normal After Gas Main Break

The incident closed the intersection of 3rd Avenue and El Camino Real on Wednesday.

Update 2:50 p.m.:

Things were getting back to normal in downtown San Mateo on Wednesday  afternoon after a natural gas pipeline rupture led to evacuations and a brief shelter-in-place warning from police.

A Caltrans subcontractor performing some trenching work punctured a steel pipeline 2 inches in diameter around 8 a.m., San Mateo police Sgt. David Norris said.

Norris said contractors working along the 300 block of South El Camino Real in the city's downtown area flagged down a San Mateo Fire Department engine company to report the break.

Fire officials immediately contacted police, and the two agencies began evacuating two buildings -- the Bank of America at 300 S. El Camino Real and the U.S. Bank at 136 Second Ave. -- and sent a Rapid Notify alert to all homes and businesses in the immediate area advising them to shelter in place, Norris said.

PG&E crews responded and shut off the gas supply by 10:54 a.m., a little more than two hours after the subcontractor hit pipeline, according to PG&E Spokeswoman Brittany Chord.

El Camino Real was shut down between Third and Fourth avenues and traffic was re-routed with the help of Burlingame police, Norris said.

PG&E crews dug a pit on the northbound side of El Camino to allow gas to seep out, and will work to repair that area and the line throughout the afternoon, Chord said.

There were no injuries, Norris said.

Update 11:45 a.m.:

Crews were working to repair a natural gas line in downtown San Mateo that was damaged Wednesday morning when a subcontractor working on a Caltrans project hit the line, a PG&E spokeswoman said.

The rupture occurred at about 8:40 a.m. in the area of Third Avenue and El Camino Real. PG&E spokeswoman Brittany Chord said the flow of gas was turned off at 10:54 a.m., a little more than two hours after the subcontractor hit the 2-inch steel pipeline, causing a gash.

Two nearby buildings were evacuated -- the Bank of America at 300 S. El Camino Real and the U.S. Bank at 136 Second Ave. -- Chord said.

Those evacuated will be permitted to re-enter the building shortly, Chord said at about 11:15 a.m.

El Camino Real has been shut down between Third and Fourth avenues. Crews dug a pit on the northbound side of El Camino to allow gas to seep out, and will work to repair that area and the line throughout the afternoon, Chord said.

Chord said that while there is a smell of rotten eggs in the air, the surrounding community is safe and PG&E crews are working with first responders to ensure that customers are informed of what is taking place.

"It is a bit windy here, so customers will definitely smell it," Chord said.

Traffic will likely be affected throughout the afternoon. Drivers can expect one lane in both the north- and southbound directions to be closed throughout the afternoon.

Traffic in the city's downtown area is highly congested, and San Mateo police Sgt. David Norris is warning drivers to plan their travels accordingly.

Copyright © 2013 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

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