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Worker Punctures Gas Line, Sparking Fire In Berkeley

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(CBS)

(CBS)

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BERKELEY (KCBS) — An underground gas line near the driveway of a Berkeley home was punctured by a worker doing excavation on Tuesday, causing a fire that burned the front of the home and a van parked outside.

The fire was reported at 1710 Martin Luther King Jr. Way at 2:28 p.m.

Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb said it was initially reported as a car fire, but when Berkeley police arrived they realized the blaze was threatening the home.

Flames were spreading to the eaves along the home’s roof line, and had engulfed the van’s rear compartment.

Crews used a hose line to contain the flames and stripped off a 15 to 20-foot section of the eaves to prevent the fire from spreading. No fire got inside the house, which is home to eight or nine people.

Firefighters then turned their attention to the burning van, using hose lines to contain the fire.

Webb said the gas pipeline was left burning because it was safer to allow the gas to burn than risk having it escape into nearby houses and vehicles where it could create an explosion risk.

PG&E crews arrived and were able to cap the flow of gas just before 4 p.m.

PG&E spokesman Jason King said the homeowner had hired a day laborer to do sewer work on the property but the worker did not call PG&E to find out where the underground gas lines were before digging.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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