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Officials: Always Call 811 before Digging on Your Property

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SAN BENITO – A leaking gas line in San Benito is now repaired. It took crews about five hours to fix it. It prompted a school evacuation in which 500 students had to be moved to a different campus.

San Benito emergency responders said this could've happened to anyone.

The response to ensure students safety was quick, but they want people to remember to check before they dig.

Magdalena Cortez said she saw something was wrong as soon as she stepped into her backyard Friday.

"I was going to go throw my trash and that's when I noticed it, I said, ‘Ugh, there's a smell,’ and right away it told me, they busted a line on the gas," Cortez said. She was right.

San Benito Police Chief Michael Galvan said city crews were working on a sewage line when they accidentally hit a gas pipe that wasn't marked off. Natural gas started leaking.

With Ed Downs Elementary less than a block away, emergency responders called for an evacuation of the 500 students and staff.

Galvan said in order to reduce the chances of these incidents happening and threatening the community, people should always call 811 before they dig on their property.

"811 will actually send a team out here to mark off whether it's a phone line, cable lines, gas lines, water lines," Galvan said, "So if you do plant a tree inside your city, please call 811."

Not doing so, he added, can lead to consequences for property owners.

"You can get a ticket for an unauthorized dig," Galvan said.

Tommy Dillard lives just a few houses from Ed Downs Elementary. He knew crews had been digging in the area.

"The only smell we've had was sewer the last few days," he said. Dillard didn't smell the gas leak.

These residents said they were glad the children were evacuated safely.

They'll be calling 811 if they ever plan any digging on their properties.

Galvan said if anyone is planning to dig on their property, they should call 811 at least three days in advance to give crews time to get out there to check for lines.

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