An errant driver -- whom authorities say was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol -- lost control and took out a number of gas meter boxes Friday in Benicia, disconnecting gas lines and causing a leak, authorities said.
The incident was reported behind the Ensenada Mexican Restaurant, 864 Southampton Road, at the Southampton Shopping Center, authorities said.
Firefighters arrived to find no injuries but an active gas leak, prompting them to shut down four businesses on either side of the Mexican eatery, Benicia fire Capt. Steve Meisenheimer told Patch.
An employee of the restaurant told Patch that the shop was closed for hours until the lines could be shut down and an all clear given.
" Right before 9 p.m. as we were getting ready to start cleaning and opened the back door ... black smoke filled our restaurant and all I heard was one of my coworkers ask if someone was burning rubber in the back," Vanessa Morales wrote to Patch in an email.
"Come to find out, someone had crashed into the wall and hit the major gas line."
Morales said she checked on the condition of the driver, who could only squeeze out of his vehicle door.
"I kept yelling at him to hurry and get out but I could see that his door was only able to open a little.
"He was finally able to get out and I told him to go towards me and go through the restaurant to the front where I could see him."
Morales said the stores could not even lock their doors; they just had to stand around and wait for hours.
"All for there to be no gas today… and for us not to open," Morales told Patch in a telephone interview.
Though the cause of the crash was under investigation, according to police, the fire captain said there was no evidence of alcohol or drug consumption.
Morales told Patch the driver admitted being distracted.