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An investigation was underway Tuesday into a natural-gas line rupture at a residential property in Venice that prompted evacuations and a HazMat probe while the discovery of suspicious containers on the property triggered the deployment of a police bomb squad.

Firefighters responded about 1:35 p.m. Monday to a report of a natural gas leak in the area before the containers were found at 2013 S. Walgrove Ave., near Palms Boulevard, said Margaret Stewart of the Los Angeles Fire Department. The Los Angeles Police Department reported it is investigating if a former tenant at the property tampered with the gas line.

A bomb squad was summoned, as were Southern California Gas Co. workers, but details about what, if anything, was in the containers found at the rear of the property were not immediately available.

About 50 surrounding homes were evacuated as a precaution and Walgrove was closed to traffic between Vienna Way and Victoria Avenue. Glencove Avenue was also closed, from Victoria Avenue to Vienna Way, Stewart said.

A gas company crew pinched off the severed line and continued digging to reach a shut-off valve, Stewart said about 5:50 p.m. Monday. The valve was closed about two hours later, which also interrupted gas service to about 60 homes in the immediate area, said gas company spokesman Chris Gilbride.

The premises were rendered safe about 10 p.m. and the evacuations were lifted, according to Officer Mike Lopez of the LAPD’s Media Relations Section.

An evacuation center was set up at the Penmar Recreation Center at 1341 Lake St. for displaced residents, but less than 10 people used it, Stewart said.

“It appears that somebody had heard the leaking gas, they contacted the gas company, who got on scene,” said Los Angeles fire Capt. Erik Scott. “They then determine that there was some activity that warrants the fire and police departments to be here, so we’re looking at this very closely, but we do anticipate to be here quite a while.”

The gas company planned on restoring service to affected customers by 8 a.m. Tuesday morning.

No injuries were reported.

–City News Service

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