53 homes lost in Bay Area fire
September 10, 2010
A natural gas line explosion Thursday night in San Bruno killed three people and sparked an inferno that quickly destroyed 53 homes. [San Francisco Chronicle]
Fueled by the wind, the blaze jumped from house to house near Skyline Blvd, west of Interstate 280, raging unabated as emergency crews rushed in.
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 of the PG&E pipeline 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.
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.
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.”
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.