FAIRFIELD — Crews working on the old courthouse renovation hit a gas line Monday morning, leading to several street closures and the evacuation of about 20 homes and businesses for an hour.
Workers hit a 2-inch-diameter line at about 10 a.m. near the sidewalk along Empire Street in back of the historic courthouse. The Fairfield Fire Department, Fairfield Police Department and Solano County Office of Emergency Services responded.
Emergency crews used a monitor to determine where the natural gas was drifting. An ignition source could have potentially caused an explosion or fire.
Homes and business were evacuated along the 500 block of Empire Street and 800 block of Union Avenue. Summer school students at nearby Armijo High School got shifted to the far end of the campus. Streets got closed at Empire and Jackson streets, Union Avenue and Kentucky Street and Jefferson and Empire streets, Fire Battalion Chief Bob Stoffel said.
But the nearby Hall of Justice and county Government Center, as well as businesses in the core downtown along Texas Street, remained open.
A slight breeze buffeted the area. Stoffel said that helps with gas leaks by dispersing the gas mixture.
Just before 11 a.m., Pacific, Gas & Electric Co. crews shut off the valve to the leaking gas line. Workers for the courthouse renovation who had been sitting under trees along the Jefferson Street sidewalk returned to work.
The emergency street shutdowns added to what might have already seemed like an obstacle course in the downtown area. A city project a few blocks away involved replacing brick pavers used for crosswalks at the intersection of Texas and Madison streets. That led to a detour that had vehicles going down a stretch of Empire Street.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.