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VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS | WEST COUNTY / SATICOY

Landslide Causes a New Gas Line Break

March 03, 1998|DAWN HOBBS

A landslide caused a high-pressure gas line to break in Saticoy early Monday morning--about 16 hours after a separate landslide caused another line to rupture.

The second break, which occurred around 1 a.m., is the fourth gas main to rupture under pressure from a saturated hillside within the past three weeks in Ventura County.

The earlier break occurred about 9 a.m. Sunday when a 50-foot section of a nearby hillside gave way on the Lloyd-Butler Ranch, which is located near Vineyard and West Los Angeles avenues.

Southern California Gas Co. was able to restore service to those cut off Sunday, which included about 55 homes and the Saticoy Country Club, by that evening.

But the line used to restore service was the one that broke Monday morning after a 200-foot landslide severed the 20-inch gas transmission line.

"I didn't know what [the broken gas line] was the first time--it's a terrible roaring noise. It sounded like a bunch of airplanes going through," said Lupe Jones, a Clubhouse Drive resident. "But the second time, I knew what it was."

Gas Co. officials said they expected to restore service by 7 p.m. Monday.

At no time was there any risk to residents, said Vic Sterling, the utility's Central Coast district manager.

"Gas is lighter than air, so it dissipates into the atmosphere once it escapes the gas line," Sterling said. "As long as there is no source of ignition, it is a fairly safe situation once the valves are turned off."

Although there has been no rain in several days, water is still seeping through the ground causing the landslides, Sterling said.

There is no way to predict when or where other ruptures of underground pipelines might occur, Sterling said, adding that geologists and other experts surveyed areas Monday in an attempt to look for aboveground symptoms.

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