Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Call before dig

Karen Ossenfort

Special to the Village News

A recent emergency call to North County Fire Protection District ended up being for a contractor who hit a gas line when they dug into a yard in the Ammunition Road area. The street was shut down for a while due to that one event.

“NCFPD responds to several natural gas line breaks throughout the year. A recent gas line break back on June 17, 2022 near the 400 block of Ammunition Road ended up being for a contractor who hit a gas line when they dug into a yard. Ammunition Road was shut down for approximately two hours while SDG&E crews secured the gas line and NCFPD crews remained on standby for the fire potential,” said NCFPD spokesperson John Choi.

Fees could be truly high if a contractor digs and hits a line without first contacting DigAlert.

“Starting July 1, 2020, the new California Underground Facilities Safe Excavation Board (Dig Safe Board) began enforcement with remedies ranging from training classes and/or fines up to $50,000,” a statement from SDG&E spokesperson Anthony Wagner wrote.

“This Board has been established and their investigators have been preparing for July 2020 by conducting investigations of excavation incidents throughout the State.

“The California Underground Facilities Safe Excavation Board was created by the Dig Safe Act of 2016 (Chapter 809, Statutes of 2016) to investigate accidents, develop excavation safety standards, etc. …,” he wrote.

“Find out what’s below before you dig. Gas pipelines and electric lines can be located anywhere – under streets, sidewalks or even your yard,” Wagner said.

“If you’re looking to start a project like planting some trees or putting in that new mailbox or fence, it’s important to know if there are any such lines that run underground in the area you are planning to dig,” Wagner said.

And you won't have to wait on the telephone line if you call because you can go through DigAlert by calling 811 or by visiting

SDG&E encourages people to call 811 before they dig anywhere on their property.

“Something as simple as a slight gouge, scrape or dent to a gas pipeline could lead to a leak. What’s more, a damaged gas pipeline or electrical line can put the safety of your community at risk and could result in serious heavy fees and project delays,” an SDG&E spokesperson said.

“Once they call, it doesn’t take too long for SDG&E locators to arrive,” Wagner said.

He explained that after calling or submitting a ticket on DigAlert’s website, the SDG&E locators will come to the site after the request has been processed. Once at the site, the locators will mark clearly where the line and pipes are located. They will also provide pipe schematics, such as material and diameter.

Wagner said, “DigAlert requires individuals to start digging within 14 days to get a ticket number because it only handles planned excavations. DigAlert does not process requests for pre-planning jobs or design stage planning.”

What to do if you are planning to dig – Courtesy of SDG&E

1. Mark out the area you’re planning to excavate with white paint, flags or other suitable markings.

2. Call 811 or submit a location request at DigAlert at least two working days in advance.

3. Wait for SDG&E's locators to come out and mark the gas pipelines and electric lines. Avoid digging until the locators inform you that it’s safe to do so.

4. Once the buried lines have been marked – and before using power excavation equipment in the area – make sure to use hand tools only and stay within 24-inches of the lines to expose their exact locations and prevent damage.

5. After calling 811 or submitting a ticket on, SDG&E’s locators will come to your excavation site after the request has been processed. They will provide clear markings where their gas pipeline or electric lines are located and indicate pipe material and diameter. It’s simple, safe, fast and free.


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