Sunday at 10:40am AlertSF blasted out a text: “Avoid the area of Sussex St. between Diamond St. and Castro St. due to Fire Activity. Emergency crews are on scene.” The incident occurred on the unit block of Sussex Street.
There was no fire but there was the strong smell of gas.
Roland Kniese of Sussex Street said he noticed in the wee hours of Sunday morning that his water wasn’t running. “I thought there must be some local issue. When we woke up this morning the water was still not working and then I got a knock on the door and it was the fire department saying there was a broken gas line and we needed to evacuate the street immediately. I just grabbed my laptop and a couple of things. The firefighter said they were staging at the corner and we’d be notified when we could go back.” His next door neighbor, Roberto Lima, likewise left in a hurry.
Maybe it was because of weekend activities, or people leaving the area, but there weren’t hordes of residents out on the street.
Another nearby resident on Castro Street, Johnny, described the water gushing down the street. Then PG&E came to mark the gas line for the water department. “I was there when they were digging around 9am–I heard a bursting sound of the gas line.”
The general thought was that PG&E had marked the gas line incorrectly or not at all. The Glen Park News reached out to Joseph Sweiss, spokesperson for the SFPUC, who said, “My understanding is that the lines were marked correctly, but during the soil removal process, the main was accidentally hit due to a technicality and misunderstanding about its precise location and placement.”
He also said in response to a question that there was no connection to the water main work on Castro Street.
Work is going on citywide on the aging water mains. San Francisco averages about 200 water main breaks a year. So far this year is no different.
Sweiss further said that the SFPUC routinely inspects, monitors and upgrades the aging infrastructure to ensure reliability and prevent breaks from happening. They proactively upgrade or replace 10-12 miles of water mains a year.
The pipe on Sussex Street was a 1960 cast iron pipe.
At 12:40pm AlertSF texted that the situation was resolved.