Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

Public Safety

Crews Assess Pipe Damage After Mission Valley Gas Leak

Firefighters and CHP officers on the scene of a gas leak in Mission Valley, March 7, 2018.
Steve Walsh
Firefighters and CHP officers on the scene of a gas leak in Mission Valley, March 7, 2018.

A major natural gas line leak was plugged Wednesday night, and state Route 163 reopened, following the evacuation of 3,300 people and numerous workers from the heart of Mission Valley.

Construction crews cut through a 20-inch-diameter gas line in Mission Valley at about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, as they worked on widening the Friars Road overpass at Route 163. The line was cut near the corner of Friars Road and Ulric Street around 10:30 a.m.

The mishap sent gas billowing into the air, television news footage showed, and forced more than 3,000 people to leave their homes. Route 163 was closed between Interstates 8 and 805, causing traffic to spill onto other local freeways and surface streets and paralyzing much of San Diego.


About a half-hour later, San Diego police started closing Friars Road between the Fashion Valley Mall and Frazee Road, and the California Highway Patrol shut down the freeway soon after.

RELATED: Evacuations Ordered Near Mission Valley Gas Leak, SR-163 Closed

By about 2:45 p.m., close to 3,300 people from 1,100 homes had been told to evacuate, said Alec Philipp of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. The entire Fashion Valley Mall was also evacuated, as well as numerous other nearby stores and offices.

The flow of gas wasn't stopped until 6:15 p.m., according to Colleen Windsor of San Diego Gas and Electric.

"Our crews will now be assessing the damage to the pipe," Windsor said.

KPBS has created a public safety coverage policy to guide decisions on what stories we prioritize, as well as whose narratives we need to include to tell complete stories that best serve our audiences. This policy was shaped through months of training with the Poynter Institute and feedback from the community. You can read the full policy here.