Gas pipe ruptures near site of 2010 Calif. blast

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By GARANCE BURKE, Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — More than a dozen homes were evacuated Thursday after a 2-inch plastic gas pipe ruptured in the same San Francisco suburb where a pipeline explosion killed eight people in 2010.

The distribution main line burst around 10:45 a.m. when a private contractor working for the city of San Bruno struck the pipe with a backhoe in the Crestmoor neighborhood, at the same intersection where the previous blast occurred, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. spokeswoman Brittany Chord said.

PG&E crews were on-scene by 11 a.m. and stopped the gas flow in less than half an hour, Chord said.

"We worked very closely with our first responders on the scene to shut the gas off as quickly as possible," Chord said.

She added the line was not fitted with excess flow valves, which are designed to trip automatically when there is a break in a distribution line, the narrow-diameter pipes that serve individual homes and businesses.

San Bruno City Manager Connie Jackson said 14 homes were evacuated for about 30 minutes, largely because the wind began to pick up in the area.

The construction job that caused the break in the line has been halted, and city officials will investigate how it was hit and adopt precautions so the construction can resume, Jackson said.

The explosion of a high-pressure transmission line on Sept. 9, 2010, sparked a gas-fueled fire that destroyed 38 homes and laid waste to parts of the same neighborhood.

That blast has been blamed on an inferior pipeline weld. According to a March review by PG&E, more than 200 of its high-pressure transmission pipelines still have sections riddled with vulnerable seam welds.

The company has said it plans to pressure test, replace or otherwise examine the problematic pipeline segments over the next two years.

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Associated Press writer Terry Collins contributed to this report.

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