Something out there seems to be working; large portions of the city have not, in fact, burst into methane-fueled flames. Still, it’s impossible to say whether the credit goes to applied science or natural forces whose dangers might have been overestimated. Fire Department calls relating to methane have substantially declined since the early 1990s. Even then, says the Fire Department’s Fukuda, most calls were false alarms, triggered mostly by people using aerosol sprays. Hollywood studios were especially prone, he says. "It just so happened that some of the sensors were placed in dressing rooms. They were using hair spray and hair spray would set the alarms off."
Methane did force a six-month closure of the Wells Fargo bank at the corner of Beverly Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue in November 1990. But the gas source was traced to leaky underground storage tanks at an Arco station next door.
Methane in Fairfax remains an ever-present threat, even though the spell of methane anxiety has migrated onward to Belmont.