Eight Arvin homes evacuated for fear of explosion

Published 03/19 2014 07:02PM

Updated 03/19 2014 08:15PM

ARVIN, CA - The Arvin oil field pipeline break on Varsity Avenue and Mahin Drive forced residents of eight homes to evacuate Tuesday night, fearing a potential explosion or poisoning.

Petro Capital Resources owns the broken pipeline, but production manager Jeff Williams refused to answer any of 17 News' questions. Displaced homeowners said they want to know how long vapors from field gas in the pipeline have been seeping into the soil near their homes and when it will be safe for them to return.

Yesenia Lara was at work when she got a call at 7:40 p.m. that she must evacuate her home immediately.

"They said, 'Well, we're going to give you twenty minutes to grab your stuff, as much as you can: groceries, food for seven days," said Lara.

Lara, her three kids and dog were sent to a hotel.

County officials said the leak was discovered last Wednesday in an oil field pipeline that transports excess petroleum-based gases.

"The day before they had said that everything was under control," said Lara. "At least give us a warning like, 'You guys might have an evacuation. Have luggage ready."

Wednesday morning, there was no activity in the neighborhood. Only one vacuum truck was seen at the tanks at the end of the street. PCR would not answer any questions about the leak or if the vacuum truck and the flame burning across the street at PCR's other property had anything to do with the leak.

"I'm kind of afraid there will be an explosion down here," said neighbor Francisco Gonzalez, who did not have to evacuate his home.

Kern County Public Health tested the soil in the properties across the street from the eight evacuated homes, but did not find any ground gas.

"We haven't dealt with anything as far as the smell like they're having on that side, because they're a lot closer to the problem than we are," said neighbor Feliz Loya.

PCR issued a statement stating it's working with the county to clean up the problem and provide hotel rooms for displaced residents. A new hole was dug late afternoon near the neighborhood, exposing a pipe, but no information was provided about it. PCR said the leaking gas pipeline was flushed clean and shut off permanently. 

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