A natural gas leak near the town of New Cuyama has shut down Highway 166 east of Santa Maria, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.
The latest report was that the roadway would be reopened at about 5:15 p.m.
The incident began shortly before 2 p.m. when a backhoe severed a 2-inch Southern California Gas Co. line, said fire Capt. David Sadecki.
Firefighters called to the scene were attempting to shut down the line using valves in the area, Sadecki said, adding that Gas Company personnel were arriving on scene as well.
No injuries were reported, but the closure was affecting Labor Day weekend travelers between the Central Coast and the Bakersfield area.