Feds: Rancho Cordova Neighborhood Safe Again

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(Rancho Cordova, CA)
Monday, December 29, 2008

There was something not quite right in the air on Paiute Way, in front of the house that exploded from a gas leak last week.  As PG&E crews worked with a federal investigator to hunt through the rubble in search of the source of the blast, PG&E spokesman Jeff Smith said the smell was gas.
Smith: “What you’re smelling is the sulfur that’s put in natural gas to give it that smell in order so it can be identified.” 
As it turned out, the reason for the smell was good news – the workers had just found the leak early Monday afternoon.  National Transportation Safety Board investigator Karl Gunther says it’s from a pipeline beneath the front yard of the house. 
Gunther: “It’s not gonna leak anymore.  It’s been repaired.  The area is definitely safe – there’s no gas on it.  It’s entirely safe.” 
Some nearby residents, like Tony Luke, didn’t leave the neighborhood.
Luke: “We’re kinda settled back into it.  But I know the people who live closer are really nervous, cause they took the brunt of the explosion.  We’re on the trailing edge of it, so didn’t bother us quite so bad.” 
But another resident, Charles Wheeler, says many neighbors did leave.  A shelter set up by the city of Rancho Cordova at a nearby middle school was empty.  Wheeler says the neighbors he’s talked with are either staying with families or at hotels.
Wheeler: “I think most of them just want this to be over and be able to get back in their houses, and they want to feel safe in their houses.  So they’re very interested in finding out what the problem is and having that fixed, and then hopefully, they can heal from that.” 
Investigator Karl Gunther says it could take months to figure out exactly what led to the explosion.  But residents could get some of their questions answered Tuesday night – at an informational meeting at Rancho Cordova City Hall.