Hemet police officers closed down all lanes of traffic on Florida Avenue, between S. Hamilton and S. Western Avenues during the ruptured gas main emergency.Eddie George Photos
HEMET- A major roadway through Hemet was shut down for several hours after a vehicle crashed into a high-pressure, above-ground, main gas line. Florida Avenue between S. Western and S. Hamilton Avenues in Hemet was closed while firefighters and Southern California Gas Company crews worked to shut down the broken gas main.
Within minutes of the crash, citizens began calling 911 and taking to social media to report hearing a loud boom, followed within minutes by a heavy gas smell in their nearby neighborhoods.
Hemet Firefighters were dispatched to a closed tire business about 10:13 p.m., in the 1000 block of Florida Avenue, after several 911 callers reported the accident and gas leak to City of Hemet emergency dispatchers.
The first fire personnel arrived at the scene of the accident about 10:15 p.m., just two minutes after they were initially dispatched the call. Within moments, officials confirmed a vehicle had crashed into the high-pressure, above ground, gas main and that gas was spewing out of the ruptured line at high velocity.
Within minutes of arriving at the scene of the gas leak, on-scene fire personnel requested assistance from Hemet PD officers, who were needed to help with traffic and crowd control.
The first of numerous officers and a patrol supervisor arrived at the scene less than 30 seconds later.
Firefighters at the scene requested expedited response from Southern California Gas Company employees, who were needed to shut off gas flow to the ruptured gas line.
When officers began arriving in the area to assist, they reported a major, very loud rupture, with heavy smell of gas in the area. Officers coordinated with firefighters to determine a safe distance away from the location in the event that victims needed to be evacuated.
During the incident, officers assisted by closing off all lanes of traffic on Florida Avenue, between S. Hamilton and S. Western Avenues. They also helped with crowd control as many residents came out of their nearby homes to inquire about the loud hissing sound from the ruptured line and the smell of gas permeating through their neighborhoods.
Southern California Gas Company employees arrived a the scene shortly before 11 p.m. Within 10 minutes, gas company employees advised it would take their workers about 45 minutes to fully shut down gas to the line and mitigate the danger to surrounding citizens and businesses. Workers at the scene requested a supervisor respond to the location to assist.
By 11:30 p.m., Hemet based social media pages were buzzing with people asking questions about the heavy gas smell in their neighborhoods, as well as how the incident happened and what officials were doing to resolve the problem.
A Southern California Gas Company supervisor arrived a the location just before midnight and was expected to be able to assist in quickly shutting down flow to the ruptured gas line.
At 12:07 a.m., officials reopened the eastbound lanes of traffic on Florida Avenue. The westbound lanes were expected to open soon.
However, two and one half hours after the accident and ruptured gas main were reported, due to unspecified complications, gas was still spewing out of the damaged line.
Shortly after 12:30 a.m., with no estimated time frame available for the emergency to be mitigated from Southern California Gas Company, City of Hemet police volunteers were summoned to the scene to relieve officers to handle patrol calls for service.
Officers also requested City Roads respond to the area with hard barricades for the prolonged and indefinite road closure.
This is a developing story. Updated information will be provided as it becomes available.
Trevor Montgomery runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News and Anza Valley Outlook and also writes for Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg and breaking his back in an off-duty accident.
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 26 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 12 – soon to be 13 – grandchildren.