Hawthorne families return home after methane leak

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HAWTHORNE (CNS) – Thirty-seven Hawthorne families, evacuated from their homes Sept. 12 due to methane gas spewing from a nearby well, began returning home today after an international well control company finally capped the idled water well owned by Golden State Water Co.

Representatives of the water company, Southern California Gas Co. and the county fire department were meeting with the roughly 130 displaced residents at a restaurant and escorting them home, where pilot lights for gas- fired appliances were re-lit, Los Angeles County fire Inspector Anthony Akins said.

About half the displaced residents were home by mid-afternoon, he said, adding that some were still at work.

The out-of-use well, once used for drinking water, started gushing water and methane about two weeks ago, and capping the well proved a challenge — even for Boots & Coots International, which is widely considered the world’s premier well-control companies.

Because methane is flammable — even explosive in some mixtures with air — and can replace oxygen in the bloodstream, firefighters evacuated nearby homes.

The water company helped pay for temporarily relocating evacuated residents, who were allowed to get essentials from their homes two days after Sept. 12 evacuations.

Methane, the largest component of natural gas, occurs in pockets under much of Southern California’s flatlands. A stench detected along the coast March 3 was attributed to a natural release of methane under Santa Monica Bay that bubbled to the surface.

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