House fire, gas leak reported

Separate incidents draw firefighters

vpatton@mercedsunstar.comMarch 19, 2013 

Merced firefighters had a busy Monday morning, responding to a house fire in the Loughborough area and a gas leak hours later at the El Portal Medical Plaza.

No injuries were reported in either incident.

The fire happened at a single-family residence in the 1400 block of Denver Way.

Firefighters responded to the scene at 4:45 a.m. and saw flames coming from the building's attic, said Battalion Chief Don Roe. The man who occupied the home had been sleeping and was awakened when firefighters arrived.

The fire was contained within 15 minutes, and the cause remains under investigation. Firefighters estimated the blaze caused about $50,000 in damage to the home.

Sixteen firefighters, four engines, one truck and a battalion chief responded to the scene.

The gas leak was reported around 10:30 a.m. on G Street near El Portal Drive. Firefighters evacuated about a dozen people from commercial offices after a backhoe struck a gas line on a construction site.

PG&E officials responded to the scene and were able to repair the leak by noon. As a precaution, the Fire Department evacuated a dental office and other businesses in the 3300 block of G Street, McCall said.

Chief Mike McLaughlin said his department receives many calls about gas lines being broken. McLaughlin said such incidents can be prevented by calling before digging to ensure there's no danger of striking a gas line.

According to PG&E's website, anyone planning an excavation can dial "811" to determine whether there are existing gas lines in the area.

About 10 firefighters responded to the gas leak.

City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsunstar.com.

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