Gas leaks prompt fire, evacuation at strip mall

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SPRING VALLEY (CNS) – Spewing fumes from a broken natural gas line ignited outside an eastern San Diego County fast-food restaurant Thursday, creating a blowtorch-like plume of flame that prompted an evacuation of the business while utility crews worked to fix the fiery problem.

The non-injury blaze in the 8300 block of Paradise Valley Road was reported shortly before 1 p.m., according to San Miguel Fire & Rescue.

Emergency crews arrived to find flames shooting several feet into the air in a landscaped median next to a parking area at the KFC restaurant, SMFR Division Chief James Marugg.

Deputies cleared everyone out of the eatery and away from the fire while San Diego Gas & Electric crews were en route, and firefighters doused the building with water as a precaution. Workers at nearby businesses were asked to remain indoors to be on the safe side, sheriff’s Lt. Glen Twyman said.

The utility personnel had the gas leak — and the resulting blaze, which caused no structural damage — halted by just before 2 p.m., Marugg said.

It was unclear what broke the gas line and how the escaping fumes ignited, which is a fairly rare occurrence, Marugg said.

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