Highway 49 gas leak disrupts traffic, school

Students held inside at E.V. Cain’s lunch hour
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A ruptured gas pipe on a busy stretch of Highway 49 in Auburn shut down traffic during part of the lunch hour Tuesday and kept students inside a nearby school. The rupture sent wisps of gas into the air at the side of southbound Highway 49 north of the Elm Avenue intersection. The rupture occurred just before 11:30 a.m., where workers are widening the highway and making intersection improvements. Emergency personnel stopped traffic along Highway 49 from Palm Avenue to Elm Avenue for the next hour. A Pacific Gas & Electric Co. troubleshooting crew was brought in to halt the flow of gas and traffic was moving again by 12:35 p.m. The “rotten egg” smell of gas additive mercaptan wafted north toward stopped motorists and E.V. Cain Middle School, where students were kept inside as a safety measure. Theresa Bracken, parent of a 14-year-old Cain student, said she tried several different routes to reach her son, who was waiting at the school to be picked up. “I’ve gone around that way — I’ve gone around this way,” Bracken said. “I want to get him home.” The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at, or comment on this story at