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Playa Del Rey gas leak caused by intruder

A truck, driven by an intruder, struck a valve at a storage facility in Playa Del Rey Monday, causing a natural gas leak.
February 17, 2014 2:28:07 PM PST
A commercial truck, operated by an intruder, hit a small valve at a gas processing center in Playa Del Rey Monday morning.

The collision caused a loud hissing noise and an unplanned release of natural gas.

The incident occurred at a Southern California Gas company storage facility on the 7000 block of Veragua Drive around 12:15 a.m.

The gas company says an intruder somehow entered the site, got into a truck that had been parked inside the facility, and then drove it over a protective lid, causing a valve to rupture.

"A commercial truck parked inside the SoCal Gas facility was taken by an unauthorized and unidentified person and driven. That person hit a small half-inch gas valve inside of our facility," said SoCal Gas spokesman Javier Mendoza.

Los Angeles police and fire crews, along with FBI officials, responded to the scene, and the gas was shut off around 3:50 a.m.

A bomb squad was also brought in to determine whether any other wells were tampered with, said LAPD officer Wendy Reyes.

A forensic team mobilized by LAPD's Major Crimes investigators gathered evidence following the incident.

A LAPD fire chief tells Eyewitness News that the valve was a high pressure line and that the truck was found running and parked over the leak. Investigators found no sign of the driver.

Officials say evacuations were not necessary and no one was hurt.

"The area was made safe and the flow of gas stopped. Natural gas is non-toxic and lighter than air, so the community was at no time in danger," said SoCal Gas spokeswoman Denise King.

The incident, however, renewed alarm in the Playa Del Rey neighborhood where oceanview homes sell for as much as $5 million. It was a year ago in January when gas exploded in the same area.

As for security, Mendoza says the eight-foot fence is monitored and signs warn intruders that trespassing is a federal offense.

"We have 24-hour security at this facility and we are increasing security at this time and also assessing our safety procedures," said Mendoza.

The gas leak remains under investigation.

CNS contributed to this report.

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