A parking lot vehicle collision caused a natural gas leak in the CVS shopping area this morning shortly before 10 a.m.. The vehicle rammed into the rear wall of Arizmendi Bakery causing the leak and leading to an evacuation and indefinite closure of the popular neighborhood bakery.
The vehicle was an older model Volvo reported to be driven by an older woman. It was not clear how the driver of the vehicle lost control or was able to get as much momentum as she did, but the force of the collision was substantial and jolted the building.
“We were in the office and it shook the entire building,” noted Arizmendi employee Aja Green. “We ran around back and saw the car in flames!”
Employees of Arizmendi leapt into action and quickly evacuated their customers. A driver of an armored vehicle who happened to be on the scene helped block the driveway to incoming cars and used his loud-speaker to instruct patrons to move to safety.
The collision happened behind Arizmendi’s electrical closet where there’s also gas line which made containing the leak more challenging.
The fire and leak also activated the sprinklers in the facility causing significantly more damage. “There’s at least two inches of water covering the entire bakery. The fire department warned that the wall may collapse,” noted another employee of the bakery.
PG&E crews drilled into the asphalt of the parking lot to cap the gas leak while Alameda County Fire crews worked to contain the blaze.
Emergency crews noted that the driver of the vehicle sustained minor injury but they declined medical treatment. Adjacent vehicles to the collision also sustained damage.
Owners and employees of adjacent businesses including Los Cantaros, Grato Burger and IHOP also evacuated but were allowed back in to inspect their building for damages. They were all expected to reopen.
“This is our biggest time of the year,” noted an emotional Green. “The time when we all come together and make things happen for the holidays.”
Arizmendi will update their status through social media accounts including Twitter and Instagram. They are also discussing the possibility of a crowd-funding campaign to help financially support the worker-owned cooperative during the closure.
The Emeryville Police Department, who helped divert traffic during the incident, noted that the scene has been cleared and streets reopened as of about 1 p.m..
Since this is breaking news, we will update this story as additional information becomes available.