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Gas in storm drain interrupts holiday

Firefighters respond on Thanksgiving to the smell of gas fumes. Five homes are evacuated.

November 29, 2011|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Fire officials say they may never know who illegally dumped gasoline in a storm drain on Justin Avenue, prompting five homes to be evacuated during Thanksgiving dinner.

If ignited, the gasoline could have sparked massive destruction similar to the San Bruno incident in Northern California, which occurred after a gas pipeline exploded and killed eight people.

No one was injured in Thursday’s three-hour incident, fire officials said.

Firefighters who responded on Thanksgiving “saw fumes coming up through the plumbing inside of the homes,” said Battalion Chief Greg Godfrey.

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Residents notified the Fire Department about 5:30 p.m. Thursday that they smelled gasoline on the 1000 block of Justin Avenue. But when firefighters arrived, they quickly discovered that it wasn’t natural gas.

Instead they reported a strong whiff of gasoline, which was likely dumped into a storm drain system, Godfrey said.

Firefighters pinpointed the smell to a home on Justin Avenue and evacuated it and four other neighboring homes during Thanksgiving dinner, he said.

The gasoline spill was isolated to Justin, Glenoaks Boulevard and San Fernando Road.

Fire crews also alerted personnel at the Hyperion and Glendale Water & Power treatment plants.

To remove the gasoline, firefighters sprayed foam to suppress flammable vapors and flushed out the chemical from the drainage system, Godfrey said.

While fire officials don’t know the exact amount of gasoline that was dumped, Godfrey said it may have been about 10 gallons based on the size of the affected region.

On Tuesday, resident Jasmine Khodaverdian said she didn’t know where the gasoline could have come from, but often sees a neighbor working on his car in the area.

Despite the evacuation, the incident, she said, didn’t ruin her Thanksgiving dinner.

Khodaverdian said she and her neighbors instead felt sorry for the firefighters “because on Thanksgiving they are supposed to be home with their families, but they were working here.”

Fire officials distributed fliers to residents on Monday informing them that dumping chemical substances into the city’s storm drains or sewers is illegal.
 
 

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