A high-pressure pipeline was sheared off Saturday morning, sending natural gas into the air and prompting evacuations in Buellton.
Santa Barbara County fire fire Engineer Russ Sechler said the main pipeline was broken on the high-pressure side for unknown reasons. The incident was reported at 11:52 a.m. near Central Avenue and Highway 246.
The pipeline was sheared off near the above-ground meter and before the valve, so the leaking gas couldn’t be shut off easily, Sechler added.
Authorities evacuated a restaurant and some residences in the one-square-block area bordered by Highway 246, Avenue of Flags, Central Avenue and Zaca Street.
Avenue of Flags, south of Highway 246, and Central Avenue were closed to traffic.
“There is quite a bit of gas in the air, and at this point it’s a very dangerous situation,” Sechler said 30 minutes after the natural gas began spewing.
A 6 to 8 mph wind helped dissipate the natural gas until it could be shut off and the pipe could be repaired, he said.
Southern California Gas Co. crews fixed the ¾-inch pipeline by 2:45 p.m., Sechler added.