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Huge Gas Line Explosion Destroys CA Neighborhood

Huge Gas Line Explosion Destroys CA Neighborhood

Firefighters examine a residential neighborhood where a massive fire took place on September 9, 2010 in San Bruno, California. A huge explosion rocked a neighborhood near San Francisco International Airport. [AP]

San Francisco Chronicle via YellowBrix

September 10, 2010

SAN BRUNO, CA — With a thunderous roar heard for miles, a natural gas line explosion ripped through a San Bruno neighborhood Thursday evening, sending up a geyser of fire that killed at least one person and injured more than 20 others, and igniting a blaze that destroyed 53 homes and damaged 120 more, authorities said.

The wind-whipped blaze leaped from structure to structure in the neighborhood near Skyline Boulevard and Sneath Lane, west of Interstate 280, raging unabated for almost an hour as emergency crews rushed in and residents streamed out.

The central ball of fire, fed by the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. gas line, raged past nightfall before abating. By then, houses on several blocks and thick stands of trees were engulfed in flames.

Power was cut off to the area, and the only light came from emergency vehicles and the smoldering houses. Firefighting planes roared overhead, dumping retardant onto the blazes, and the scene took on a chaotic tone as neighbors desperately searched for help and for each other.

San Bruno officials said the explosion happened near or in Glenview Park, just east of Skyline and north of San Bruno Avenue. A huge crater was left in the street at the heart of the explosion.

“A terrible, terrible tragedy has fallen on our city,” Mayor Jim Ruane said.

“Say a special prayer for those people,” Ruane said. “This is going to be a long haul for this city.”

Millbrae Fire Chief Dennis Haag said more than 100 people were in evacuation centers. Firefighters had not been able to get into the area to search for people, he said.

“We could not get close to the line,” Haag said late Thursday night. “We are still not able to access the area fully.”

The heaviest damage was on the fire’s western flank, he said.

Omar Naber and his mother, Lana Naber, were in their home on Vermont Way, a couple of blocks north, when the house shook violently about 6:15 p.m.

“I thought it was the biggest earthquake ever,” he said. Injured in hospitals

Deputy San Mateo County Coroner April Florent said “there are deaths, but we do not have a number right now.” She said it would take awhile to compile a count because investigators must go from house to house.

Fifteen people were being treated at Kaiser Medical Center in South San Francisco for burns, smoke inhalation and other injuries, spokeswoman Stacey Wagner said. Some critically burned patients had been transferred earlier to St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco, she said. Three patients went to Seton Medical Center in Daly City.

Five injured people were taken to San Francisco General Hospital. Spokeswoman Rachael Kagan said three were in critical condition – a man in his fifties and a woman in her eighties, both suffering from burn injuries, and a woman in her eighties being treated for smoke inhalation.

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