School, senior apartments evacuate following gas leak

School, senior apartments evacuate following gas leakBy BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

Dozens of Ridgecrest Senior Apartments residents were temporarily evacuated Tuesday afternoon after construction crews damaged a large gas line. At press time, no injuries were reported.

According to the Ridgecrest Police Department, the break occurred around 1:15 p.m. when Southern California Edison crews were drilling on the west side of South Downs Street near Ridgecrest Elementary Academy for Language, Music & Science (formerly Ridgecrest Charter School) and the Ridgecrest Senior Apartments.

RPD was assisted by Kern County Fire Department and Liberty Ambulance personnel in evacuating nearly 30 residents – mostly senior citizens – from the apartments to the Ridgecrest Senior Center. REALMS students and staff were also evacuated.

Law enforcement blocked entry to the section of Downs Street while SCE crews worked to stop the leak. The street was reopened and residents returned to their homes by 6 p.m.

SCE had to cut the power to nearby areas temporarily while they corrected the issue – but most power was restored around 4 p.m. Strong Indian Wells Valley winds helped disperse the leaking gas, which could have potentially lingered in the area, prolonging the residents’ displacement.

Emergency personnel help evacuate residents from the Ridgecrest Senior Apartments following a gas major gas leak. Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2020-01-14