Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fire Associates Responds to Gas Leak Incident in San Jose

Photo By John Whitaker
Construction projects don't always go the way they were planned.

Such was the case on Tuesday, January 20, when a construction crew hit a 4-inch gas line in front of 2160 Tully Road in San Jose. Located just to the north of the Eastridge Mall, gas was escaping from under the roadway with first-arriving fire crews got on scene.
Because the leak was in a large-size distribution line, the leak prompted the evacuation of 12 businesses on both sides of the street. This necessitated a full first alarm response from the San Jose Fire Department with the aid of  additional crews to help with the evacuation process. While engine companies poured water to help locate and dissipate the escaping gas, the entire 6-lane roadway was closed to traffic between Quimby Rd. and Capitol Expressway. With the busy commute hour approaching, this made for heavy traffic on the surrounding roads in the area.
At approximately 4:30 P.M., an hour and a half into the incident, the IC requested Fire Associates assistance at the scene. It had become obvious that this was going to be a long operation as PG&E crews first worked to determine how to proceed with the shutdown of the gas line, and then worked to excavate the site and get the gas shut off.
Don Gilbert and John Whiteside answered the request and responded to the scene in Fire Support Unit 2. While they were in route, FASCV member John Whitaker went to the scene in his personal vehicle. Access was extremely difficult as the roads in the area are divided by concrete curbing and traffic was backed up. In addition, key access points to the parking lots where the command center was located had been blocked off with cones and warning tape. With the help of firefighters, John eventually arrived at the command post and it was determined that this location was the best place for a rehab area. The challenge then was to get the Support Unit into the same site once it arrived on scene. Not an easy task!
Photo By John Whitaker
With the dinner hour approaching, and PG&E work progressing slowly, John Whitaker worked with the IC to get meals delivered to firefighters. Sandwiches were ordered by San Jose Fire Dispatchers from a nearby Togo's -- and then the challenge was getting out of the Command Post area and through traffic in order to pick up the food from a site that was less than a quarter mile away. Sounds easy -- but it wasn't.
Fifty sandwiches were eventually delivered to the firefighters on scene. They had already been taking advantage of Fire Associates' hot coffee, Gatorade, and Clif Bars. Needless to say, the sandwiches disappeared quickly to appreciative firefighters.
At approximately 7:30 P.M., after PG&E had stopped the flow of gas, Fire Associates was released from the incident. Fire crews had already been released as PG&E took over the entire operation. The roadway was expected to be closed through the night while repairs were made.
-- Report submitted by John Whitaker