Gas service fully restored to homes after major leak

SAN DIEGO - San Diego Gas & Electric crews restored full gas service to all residential customers early Friday morning, more than a day and a half after a gas leak shut down a major freeway, closed the Fashion Valley Mall and prompted the evacuation of more than 3,300 people in the Mission Valley East neighborhood.

Crews "worked through the night" Thursday into Friday, finally restoring full service for all customers around 3 a.m. Friday, SDG&E said in a statement.

"We truly appreciate everyone's patience and understanding as we worked to resolve the issue," the company said.

More than 900 residential customers, as well as businesses around Fashion Valley Mall, were without gas service starting around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, when a third-party construction crew cut through a 20-inch-diameter gas line while working to widen the Friars Road overpass at state Route 163.

The mishap sent gas billowing into the air -- visible as it carried dirt and dust along with it -- and forced more than 3,000 people to leave their homes. SR-163 was closed between Interstates 8 and 805 for more than six hours Wednesday, causing traffic to spill onto other local freeways and surface streets and paralyzing much of San Diego during the evening commute.

SDG&E crews were finally able to plug the leak around 7 p.m. Wednesday and all evacuations were lifted a short time later, but the restoration of gas service was a much slower process.

Gas service was restored to the businesses and restaurants around Fashion Valley Mall by noon on Thursday, restored to stores inside the mall by 4 p.m. Thursday and restored to about 400 residential customers by 9 p.m. Thursday. Gas service was restored to the remaining residential customers -- roughly 500 dwellings -- around 3 Friday morning.