By Tim Ryan

BURLINGAME (KCBS) – The emergency response to an underground natural gas leak in the downtown core of Burlingame on Thursday morning is coming into question.

Construction crews working on a major sewer, water and storm drain project severed a four-inch gas main just after 4:30 a.m. Businesses were closed, as was the normally busy Burlingame Avenue.

But rather than call 911, the excavator, JMB Construction of South San Francisco called Pacific Gas & Electric and its construction management team.

PG&E was on the scene within 21 minutes, verifying that the gas main was crushed and leaking, but even PG&E didn’t call 911.

“We really encourage a contractor in this type of situation to call 911 directly,” said PG&E spokesperson Brittany Chord.

She said the first utility worker should have called 911 as well.

“That said, there will be an investigation into this incident, both into the contractor’s actions prior to this incident and PG&E’s actions following this accident. It’s very important to us that we learn,” she said.

It was an hour before the construction management company called 911.

There were no injuries, but 20 to 25 businesses were off limits for more than four hours as crews worked to cap the leak.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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