Two-inch line severed, sixteen employees affected when offices close for the afternoon

West Kern Water District offices were evacuated Wednesday when a backhoe severed a gas main on the west side of the building at 800 Kern St.

The line was cut about 12:40 p.m. and the 16 employees working in the office building were evacuated.

Offices were closed for the rest of the day because some gas was getting inside the structure but they will reopen Thursday for normal business, General Manager Harry Starkey said. 

Pressurized gas spewed from the two-inch line for about two hours until the line was crimped and the flow was stopped.
Starkey said crews didn't know the line was there when they started working.

"It was our mistake. We didn't know the line had been moved. It wasn't on any of our maps," he said.

The Kern County Fire Department was called to stand by while PG&E cut the flow of gas and repaired the line.