Gas line explosion in San Bruno

In World News on September 20, 2010 at 7:26 pm

By: Kristen Hegel

“I saw all this from the news, but being here the first time coming up here and looking at all this- no words. I can’t really explain,” Walter McCaffrey, San Bruno resident, said after returning to his neighborhood where a gas line explosion occurred just three days before.

After the explosion, seen here, is the fire looming over the San Bruno neighborhood. Photo courtesy Google images

            It all started on Thursday in the suburban town of San Bruno, located just outside of the urban area of San Francisco, CA, when a gas pipeline burst, destroying 37 homes, killing at least four, and injuring about 60 others. The extreme explosion was so massive that it blasted through grocery store doors located a quarter-mile away. According to authorities, the death toll is likely to rise. Coroner Robert Foucrault of San Mateo County is still examining remains. Besides determining human bone from animal bone, Coroner Foucrault is trying to identify possible victims. The number of deaths is still a question to investigators and the community.

            A three-and-a-half hour hiatus on Sunday allowed residents to return to their homes. Of the 377 homes in the San Bruno neighborhood, residents were only permitted to return to 293 of them. The statement released by the city stated, “The remaining 84 households have not been allowed to return to their homes. These households include homes that were destroyed, have extensive damage or are on a police perimeter that encompasses the zone closest to the blast site.” The homes described in the statement are mark as “red-tagged.” One resident, Patrick Yu, returned home on Sunday only to find his house had been red-tagged. If the inspection goes well and authorities declare it safe, Yu can return to his home, but for now going home isn’t an option. “I have lots of memories in that house,” the 62-year-old explained. “Lots of stuff you can’t replace.” For couple Pat and Roger Haro, going home was not an option either. After the explosion on Thursday, the Haro’s fled to a hotel with the clothes on their backs, dog food, water, and an iPad. Luckily, when the couple returned to their home on Sunday, they were greeted with a green-tag on their door. “Once I saw the house was there then I felt a whole lot better. I think we’ll be a tighter community,” Pat Haro stated.

            Without a doubt, this incident has pushed regulators to order the gas line company, Pacific Gas and Electric, to inspect all of its gas lines. With 2.5 million miles of pipeline through the US and only 100 inspectors, not much inspecting is being completed. The pipeline which burst was put in place in 1948 and, according to the company; it had a “relatively high risk and likelihood of failure.” Over 50-years-old, the pipe had reached the average life-expectancy for a steel pipe, not to mention the pipe was located in a highly populated community. Officials are still looking into what happened previous to the explosion. It was reported that some residents claimed smelling gas in the few weeks before the disaster, yet after the company searched through its phone records, no evidence of the complaints have been discovered.

            “Nobody, PG&E included, could have imagined something as horrible and terrible as the San Bruno blast and fire. But the fact remains that when PG&E got the reports of gas leaks from several customers over several days, they should have realized that this was an area that was old, that was at risk- that they identified as high risk,” Mark Toney, executive director of the Utility Reform Network, explained.  Pacific Gas and Electric plans on setting aside roughly $100 million dollars for the recovery efforts in the San Bruno area. Hopefully the community will get back on its feet, and hopefully good will come out of this situation to help prevent gas line accidents in the future.

  1. Este artículo se asusta y entristece. No me gusta lo que sucedió en San Bruno.

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