SoCal Gas: Unplanned gas release and fire event at Playa del Rey Storage Facility

socal gas explosion 1 6 2013

An  explosion at a local gas company storage facility startled many residents in Playa del Rey on Sunday morning.

Some residents like Pam Brown saw the flames and a large plume of smoke that billowed from the Southern California Gas Company’s storage facility. Pam and her husband Rod watched the spectacle unfold from their home located close to the scene.

“What drew our attention was a very load roar from the Gas Co. property,” said Pam Brown.  “A few seconds later we saw the flames – which were much higher than in this picture (above).  We have had incidents from the company before but nothing like this.  Must say, it was an impressive sight.”

Impressive — and a bit of a concern for Brown who admitted she couldn’t help but think there might be a second, larger explosion to follow.

Krista Phipps of Southern California Gas confirmed via email that an unplanned gas release and fire event took place at their facility and the flame was extinguished within an hour.

At approximately noon on Sunday, January 6, an unplanned release of natural gas occurred
during normal operations of injecting gas into the storage field at SoCalGas’ Play del Rey
storage facility.   A relief vent properly performed its function by releasing natural gas. Upon
release, the gas temporarily ignited, causing a loud noise, and for a brief time, a visible flame
and smoke.

We apologize to our neighbors and the public for any concern this may have caused. The safety
of our customers employees, and the communities we serve is a top priority for SoCalGas. 

The situation posed no immediate danger to neighboring areas or the public.

LA City Fire and Police responded to the incident and there are no reported injuries. Damage to
the facility was cosmetic and estimated at under $5,000.

SoCalGas is investigating the cause of the incident. The Playa del Rey storage facility has
operated safely since 1942 and is one of four facilities operated by SoCalGas.

The Los Anglees Fire Department shared with our office that the incident was brought under control quickly by SoCal Gas staff and there were no injuries and very little damage.

LAPD and LA City Fire responded out of precaution.

Gas operations have been suspended while an internal investigation continues to determine why there was increased pressure which caused the release and why the gas ignited.

Phipps says the company sent a letter on Monday to its customers in the area.

Photo: Rod Brown

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