SAN BRUNO, Calif. – Fire crews flooded the ruins of burning homes with water early Friday after a massive explosion sent flames roaring through a neighborhood in the hills south of San Francisco, killing at least one person, injuring many others and destroying more than 50 houses.
Thursday night’s explosion was heard for miles and shot a fireball more than 1,000 feet in the air and sent frightened residents fleeing for safety and rushing to get belongings out of burning homes, witnesses said.
Utility officials said a gas line ruptured in the vicinity of the blast, which left a giant crater and sent flames tearing across several suburban blocks in San Bruno just after 6 p.m.
At least one person was confirmed dead, San Bruno Fire Chief Dennis Haag said. At least 20 others were injured, some with critical burns.
Authorities said there could be other casualties but the fire and darkness blocked them from checking.
“It’s going to take us until at least until tomorrow into the afternoon to do a full search,” Haag said late Thursday.
Our hearts at TAZ go out to the victims of this tragedy in San Bruno.
Now, it boils down to, was this just an accident? Or was it preventable? Granted I don’t know very much about gas lines, or how they are maintained, or how often they should be replaced, or what kind of regular maintenance is involved, but I’m hoping that this isn’t another case of human error or neglect…a preventable accident.
UPDATE: September 11th, 2010
In the tragic aftermath of one of the worst disasters in PG&E’s history, the death toll in the huge fireball that torched a San Bruno hillside community climbed to four Friday as fire crews finished their search for bodies in the smoking rubble and scrutiny intensified on what caused Thursday’s natural gas line explosion.
The wide swath of destruction turned Crestmoor Canyon into a moonscape with collapsed homes — 37 destroyed and eight seriously damaged — burned eucalyptus trees and a massive water-filled crater marking the site of the explosion — 50 feet wide and 40 feet deep.