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Feb 18, 2010 2:12 AM by Ariel Wesler

Mysterious odor prompts large-scale investigation

A mysterious odor drifts through southern San Luis Obispo prompting a massive search for the source of the stench.

Residents first reported smelling gas around 8:30 a.m. in the area of Los Osos Valley Road, South Higuera and Tank Farm Road. Fire crews searched the area but could not find the cause.

A strong odor blew through San Luis Obispo Wednesday morning.

"It's just like if you turn your burner on at home and there's no flame. It was the same smell. Definitely a gaseous odor, said Jim Brabeck, who owns Farm Supply Company in town.

Two of his employees caught a whiff of it on their way to work.

One came in from this end of Tank Farm Road. One came in from this end. They both smelled it at both ends of the street," Brabeck said.

Residents living at the Creekside Mobile Home Park also reported the same smell. The first calls came in around 8:30 in the morning and fire crews set out to investigate.

"They did identify an odor. That odor then dissipated about 9:20," said San Luis Obispo Fire Marshall Rodger Maggio.

25 minutes later it was back.

"We're not concerned that it's that dangerous," Maggio said.

Still, officials weren't taking any chances. At 10 a.m., the fire department activated its Emergency Operations Center.

Several city and county agencies joined forces to find the source of the smell. After nearly three hours, the search was called off. The mysterious smell seemed to have vanished without a trace.

The gas company also received several service calls. Many people originally thought they had a gas leak.

Emergency crews did not order any evacuations while they investigated the smell.

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