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.



  1. PaulJones says:

    Has there been any recent “fracking” in the area for natural gas? Natural gas exploration and the harnessing of this resource is a nightmare. HBO recently had a documentary where everyday people were igniting the water that came out of their kitchen faucets, even their water wells were blowing up and igniting like an oil well would. These natural gas and oil companies are exempt from Gov CEQA regulations and are even allowed to claim proprietorial rights from disclosing the 100’s of chemicals that they are blasting into the earths infrastructure as a means of channeling path way’s to extract natural gas. A cigarette thrown into a stream in one of these area’s ignited the entire stream. I suspect that this is about more than just a ruptured gas pipe.

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  2. easymoney says:

    Very sad…
    I heard something on the am radio that people had been smelling gas in the area for days, some said weeks before this happened.
    Glad to hear that Abel stepped up and started the emergency status process to help these folks and the EMS system.

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    • BeenThereDoneThat says:

      Easy, it’s worse than that. On the KTLA news out of L.A. last night, they had a guy on the phone that said not only had he smelt the gas coming from the storm drains in the area, he called PG&E, they came out and said no problem. If this is true I bet that PG&E is in intence meetings with lawyers today, trying to figure out what to do.

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      • easymoney says:

        Guess that means my power bill will be going up to cover the impending law suites?

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        • zaphod says:

          I will worry about my bill going up after I find out if the anti corrosion anodes on my local pipeline have been maintained.

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