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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

A woman in her sixties was in serious condition with smoke inhalation, and the fifth victim was in good condition, Kagan said.

PG&E spokesman Jeff Smith said one of the utility’s natural gas transmission lines ruptured. The reason for the rupture is unknown, he said.

“If it is ultimately determined that we were responsible for the cause of this incident, we will take accountability,” Smith said. “Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by this terrible situation.”

Abelardo Vega, 34, of Daly City was at a church service nearby and came to check on a friend in the neighborhood when the blast happened. He couldn’t reach the friend but got his cell phone’s voice-mail message.

“Thanks for your concern,” the message said. “My house did catch on f- fire. Luckily, none of my family got hurt. They’re all OK. … I lost my house.” Flames up to 300 feet high

Joe Simpson, who lives a half-mile from the explosion, said the blast had shaken his house like an earthquake. “I felt it as much as I heard it,” he said.

As night fell, Simpson said he had a startling view of the fire geyser from his backyard, estimating the flames were shooting 200 to 300 feet high.

California Emergency Management Agency spokesman Kelly Huston said the official count by about 10 p.m. was 120 homes damaged and 53 structures destroyed. The fire was 50 percent contained, he said, and it consumed a 10-acre area. Mutual aid came from many agencies throughout the Bay Area. ‘It was so loud’

“Apparently the explosion was so catastrophic it knocked out power and water lines, which complicated the firefighting effort,” he said. “Some units are having to shuttle water into the area.”

David Pinochi, who lives on Crestmoor Drive a quarter-mile away from the explosion, was evacuated as large bits of ash rained down. Firefighters marked houses with a large “X” after they evacuated families.

“I’ve loaded up my dogs, and I’m getting ready to go,” said Pinochi, who ran to get home to check on his children, ages 10, 12 and 16. All were safe. “I took my Niner autographed stuff and packed it up. I’m hoping for the best.”

Ed Hornung, who also was evacuating, said, “It was so loud, it could have been a nuclear explosion.” Emergency shelter set up

A shelter for residents was established at a San Bruno Parks and Recreation Department center.

Sheriff’s deputies and police began evacuating residents near the fireball within minutes, pounding on doors as the flames raged nearby. They went door to door, ordering people out of their houses as their colleagues set up equipment mere feet away to battle the flames.

Naber and his mother, in their house on Vermont Avenue, rushed for the front door after they heard the explosion and tried to open it, but the door handle was too hot. He ran to his room, grabbed his car keys and fled the house with his mother through another exit. Running out of the heat

As they ran to the car, which was parked on the street, they could see a fireball. The heat was so intense, it burned the hair off his arms, he said as he stood in shock with his mother on Skyline.

“It’s really sad for all those residents, for all the people who were on top of the explosion,” Naber said.

Leigh Bishop, staff pastor at Church of the Highlands in San Bruno, was standing in the parking lot preparing for a night meeting when the blast ripped into the sky.

“It was absolutely frightening,” Bishop said. “A huge yellowing billow of flame. I thought it was right behind our church building and ran in to pull the fire alarm and get everyone out of the church.”

He realized it was about three-fourths of a mile away.

“The initial explosion was just deafening,” Bishop said.

City Manager Connie Jackson asked all residents of the area to call a hot line at (650) 616-7180. Authorities are trying to account for all residents.