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Report natural gas odors to 911, regulators say |

Report natural gas odors to 911, regulators say

State regulators are spreading the word on one early lesson they learned from the San Bruno explosion: Anyone who smells natural gas should call 911.

Gas companies usually have their own emergency numbers they ask customers to call for reporting gas odors. But people should call 911 first, said Jennifer Kocher, spokeswoman for the state Public Utility Commission. Doing so gets a quicker response from gas companies and ensures emergency responders arrive to help company workers, she said.

“Don’t question, don’t delay,” Kocher said. “Once you smell it, it can be ignited. It’s a volatile source. So it’s not something we prefer for people, for lack of a better term, to mess around with. A light switch, a cell phone, those are all things that could set it off.”

A fenced-off area with hissing pipes sits above one of the pipelines running through the Stonebridge neighborhood in North Fayette. A sign from Dominion Energy, which no longer owns the pipeline, warns of the pipeline and says “for emergencies call (800) 773-5263.” The sign doesn’t mention 911.

“If there were a real emergency, we’d call 911 ourselves,” Dominion Energy spokesman Dan Donovan said. “To me, it doesn’t matter which one you call first. If you call us, we’ll call them, and if you call them, they’ll call us.”

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