SoCalGas urges homeowners to call 811 before digging to avoid rupturing gas lines

WOODLAND HILLS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- SoCalGas employees saved a couple who dialed 811 after a contractor damaged a gas line on their property.

The couple own a home in Woodland Hills and were getting work done in June when a contractor hit a gas line, causing an explosion.

"I was able to confirm the leak, place my order and then provided them the safety advice, as needed. I also advised them to exit the property right away," he said.

Rocha, a customer service representative, answered the call from the elderly couple. When his colleague Jeff Catton arrived at the home a few minutes later, he moved the couple off the property before the explosion.

SoCalGas and the Los Angeles Fire Department said a call before construction could have prevented the leak altogether.

"They'll send a locator out within two days. That locator will do a survey of the area, find the underground utilities and highlight those. That gives the information to the contractor or homeowner about where those utilities are at," LAFD Deputy Chief Trevor Richmond said.

The fire department said many gas explosions are preventable and believe residents calling 811 will cut down on their emergency calls.

SoCalGas said 60 percent of pipeline damage due to digging is caused by homeowners or contractors who did not call 811. A 30-foot shovel is making the rounds in SoCalGas' service areas as a reminder.

"I know Jeff and I are grateful that we are able to play a role in keeping this couple safe," Rocha said.
Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.