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San Benito
July 13, 2024

Updated: Gas leak started in Panda Express kitchen

Two stores in an Airline Highway shopping center were closed Sunday due to a gas leak that started in the kitchen area of the local Panda Express, and the restaurant will be closed until it can fix several code violation issues, a fire official told San Benito Live.

Panda Express and GameStop both had signs on the door Sunday in the early afternoon informing customers of the situation. GameStop reopened in the mid-afternoon after airing out the store.

A Hollister Fire Department battalion chief, Rodney Dover, told San Benito Live the fire department responded at 9:20 a.m. Sunday after GameStop reported the strong gas odor in the building located at 1740 Airline Highway.

The fire department used a monitor and found unsafe levels of natural gas. Firefighters investigated Panda Express and found a gas leak coming from a commercial deep fryer. Firefighters investigated further and found a leak coming from a residential gas line hooked up to a commercial rice cooker, while Dover noted the residential line was ill-equipped to handle the commercial cooker.

Dover said Pacific Gas & Electric arrived and confirmed the issues. The company couldn’t get anyone out until Monday to fix the problem, and Dover said Panda Express can’t reopen until it clears up “some code violations” related to the situation. He said the fire marshal will come out and do checks to ensure it’s safe once the issues are addressed. A third store, AT&T, also had a sign on the door informing customers it was closed.

Dover said GameStop employees noted how there had been an issue with a gas smell for about a month.

“We hate to close down a business like that because we know they’re busy on the weekends,” Dover said.

Signs on the doors from the Code Enforcement Division for the City of Hollister said the building was unsafe to occupy as of mid-day.

A PG&E spokesman also confirmed it was a Panda Express issue and not related to PG&E’s side of things.

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