SoCal Gas Worker Told Homeowners to Leave Before Dangerous Gas Blast: First Responders
A broken gas line caused the explosion and fire at the Woodland Hills home
By Beverly White and City News Service
First responders were praising a SoCal Gas worker Tuesday night after he urged homeowners out of a Woodland Hills house moments before a gas explosion and fire gutted the structure.
At least one explosion was reported at the two-story home at 4961 Marmol Drive, south of Ventura Boulevard, according to Amy Bastman of the Los Angeles Fire Department, who said the fire broke out about 7:40 p.m.
Preliminary reports indicated a third-party contractor was doing sewer work when it hit and damaged a natural gas service line, according to Chris Gilbride of Southern California Gas.
When Jeff Catton, a seven-year veteran of SoCal Gas, responded to the broken gas line, firefighters said he wisely refused to enter the house and told the homeowners to leave.
Moments later, neighbors said the blast sent home furnishings and pieces flying from the structure.
Catton did not comment on his actions Tuesday night, but first responders are crediting him for saving the lives of the couple who lived in the home.
There were no reports of injuries.
It took 59 firefighters an hour and 50 minutes to knock down the blaze due to the continued burning gas line, Bastman said.
The house was engulfed in flames after reports of an initial explosion. The gas line was shut down by Southern California Gas, she said.
Explosions were heard as flames overcame a Woodland Hills home Tuesday evening, forcing residents to evacuate as an “uncontrolled gas line” fueled the blaze, authorities said.
The fire was reported about 7:40 p.m. in the 4900 block of Marmol Drive, according to Amy Bastman, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Crews from the gas company and a construction company were on the scene and assisting fire officials.
Images from KTLA-TV Channel 5 showed the two-story home with windows and doors blown out and smoke coming from the roof.
The home’s foundation also appeared cracked, and Bastman said the home was “structurally compromised.”
Because of the home’s instability, firefighters were battling the blaze from outside the structure.
The fire was among several that broke out Tuesday evening across Los Angeles, which has seen sweltering temperatures amid a regional heat wave.
In Montecito Heights, a fire erupted in one room of a two-story home, drawing more than 40 firefighters to control the blaze. Firefighters doused the flames in 38 minutes. A 21-year-old man was suspected of igniting the fire, Bastman said.
In North Hollywood, a one-story home caught fire in the 11000 block of West Emelita Street. Dozens of firefighters controlled the fire in about 20 minutes, Bastman said. No injuries were reported.