Downtown San Jose gas leak shuts down San Fernando as buildings are evacuated nearby
San Jose safety officials have shut down the area around San Jose City Hall as PG&E works to repair a gas leak. Image courtesy of San Jose Fire Department

Three buildings have been evacuated near San Jose City Hall, and San Jose Fire Department officials are asking others to shelter in place due to a natural gas leak at on Fifth Street and San Fernando.

The leak was caused by a contractor working in the area who struck the line at Fifth Street, between San Fernando and City Hall plaza by accident, according to Erica Ray, a spokeswoman for the San Jose Fire Department. San Fernando is currently closed off in the area and is expected to remain closed for the next hour, Ray said.

“There is a significant smell of gas in the air around the area at the moment, so that is why we are advising people to shelter in place right near by, and we want people to stay out of the area,” she said. “We want to keep people out of the area to contain the hazard and not increase any risk to the public.”

PG&E is on the scene working on repairing the line as San Jose police and the Fire Department officials are working on other safety measures. The contractor who struck the gas line was described by PG&E as a third-party contractor not affiliated with the utility company. The contractor was “using an excavator with a jackhammer attachment in an area where the lines were marked,” PG&E said, adding that “contractors are required by law to use hand tools when digging within two feet on either side of a marked line.”

The buildings that have been evacuated so far are three structures at 80 – 92 S. Fifth Street next to City Hall. Police officers are escorting the residents who live at the Jeanne D’Arc Manor nearby in and out of the building, if needed, but otherwise are asking the residents to shelter in place.

San Jose State University and its Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library entrances are closed along San Fernando, but are accessible from entrances on other streets, Ray said.

City Hall employees received emails this morning from the city’s facility management department advising them to shelter in place and close all windows in the building. If city staff members must leave the buildings, they’ve been advised to use the north side of the campus toward Santa Clara Street. The City Hall Garage is also temporarily inaccessible, but the Fourth Street Parking Garage remains open.

Contact Janice Bitters at janice@sanjosespotlight.com or follow @JaniceBitters on Twitter.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story said the contractor was affiliated with PG&E, per information provided by the fire department. PG&E has since provided additional information to indicate that the contractor who struck the gas line was not affiliated with the utility company, and this story has been updated accordingly. We regret the error.

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