In Porter Ranch, ongoing gas leak seeps the joy out of Christmas

Signs of Christmas along Danielle Rabadi's eerily quiet street have made her wistful for noel parties she has enjoyed in the Porter Ranch neighborhood, with families and neighbors sharing dinner tables and gifts.

"I think about it every day," said Rabadi, 29, a real estate agent, as she returned to her home this week to pick up unwrapped Christmas presents. "But this holiday, we're all living in hotel rooms or with relatives and don't know when we'll be moving back into our homes."

Rabadi is among thousands of Porter Ranchers who have moved out since Oct. 23, when a nearby Southern California Gas Co. natural gas well began leaking at a rate of 110,000 pounds an hour.

SoCal Gas expects to have the leak fixed in three to four months. Until then, the company is paying to relocate and house residents and pets sickened by fumes that health officials and independent experts say can cause headache, nosebleed, nausea and other short-term ailments but pose no long-term health risks.

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