'Sewage leak' in senior care facility's electrical room causes elevator problems, firefighters respond

Firefighters in Contra Costa County responded to reports of several people trapped in an elevator at a senior care facility on Sunday. Officials say it was a sewage leak from the second floor into the electrical room that caused problems. 

Contra Costa County Fire Protection District initially received calls about the elevator at the four-story Senior Terrace building, located at 67 Carol Lane in Oakley at around 11:30 a.m. Once they arrived on the scene, they noticed the leak. Fire officials said when Pacific Gas and Electric determined the water from the leak to be a hazard, the building's power was turned off. 

A sewage leak impacted an elevator at a senior housing complex in Oakley on Sunday, May 26, 2024. 

When the power was turned off, the elevator was opened. Officials said no one was inside the elevator. 

"We safely evacuated 50 residents with their pets and are working with management to relocate them while cleanup and repairs are completed," the fire department said in a social media update. 

Fire officials said the apartment complex has a contract with a local hotel for temporary relocation purposes. 

The cleanup effort is said to be major. Video from the building's interior shows a bathtub full of what appears to be the sewage leak. 

Battalion Chief Jeff Burris said a county hazmat team is on-hand to positively identify the leaking substance that has pooled in the bathtub. The unit the bathtub is in is said to be unoccupied.  

Ambulances were called to the scene to assist with evacuations. Burris said the fire department has been to this building numerous times for flooding conditions. 

Others at the scene, who spoke to a photographer, claimed the building's garbage chutes have been a problem and that trash is not being picked up on schedule. KTVU was not able to verify this claim. 

Residents said they were unsure when they'd be able to return to their homes. 

On Monday, an Oakley city councilmember said the city is aware of this incident and that representatives have been at the scene since Sunday. 

"People will not be moved back in until the city is reassured that the building is safe and sanitary," said Councilmember Anissa Williams. "The mayor and vice mayor have been coordinating with the various donation efforts and ensuring that the people displaced are being cared for and have access to everything they need. We will continue this effort throughout the process and are not relaxing on our standards."

Andre Torrez is a digital content producer for KTVU. Email Andre at andre.torrez@fox.com or call him at 510-874-0579.