Massive explosion, fire destroys dozens of homes

September 9, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
At least one person is dead and dozens of homes have been destroyed after a major gas explosion and series of fires in San Bruno.

A large fireball reaching up to 50 feet in the air at times burned for hours in the Crestmoor Two area. Fire crews attacked the fires from the air and ground and declared the fire 50 percent contained by 11 p.m. As many as 53 homes were severely damaged and 120 homes suffered some damage.

PG&E confirms a 24-inch PG&E high-pressure gas line is the source of the explosion and fire. Crews are working to shut down distribution lines to get the remaining gas out of the lines.

There is reportedly a 15-foot crater with a gas pipeline sticking out in the center at the epicenter of the explosion near the intersection of Glenview Drive and Earl Avenue. A witness says the surrounding asphalt is melted and almost all of the homes on Glenview Drive are destroyed.

Lieutenant Gov. Abel Maldonado has declared a state of emergency in the area and will visit Friday. (Maldonado is acting governor while Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is out of the country.)

People as far as one-half mile away say they felt the boom and heat of the explosion.

The San Mateo County Sheriff activated the reverse-911 system to alert people in a three-quarter mile radius of a voluntary evacuation.

Evacuation centers have been set up at the San Bruno Veterans Memorial Recreation Center and the connecting senior center at 251 City Park Way. About 200 residents are being housed there. Residents are also gathering at Tanforan and Bayhill shopping centers. The Red Cross and Salvation Army are set up at Bayhill to provide victim assistance.

The city of San Bruno is asking residents in the impacted to check-in with Red Cross officials to let them know they are safe. They can check-in in person or by calling 650-616-7180. A local state of emergency has been declared.

The PETCO at the Tanforan shopping center is offering overnight shelter for small animals.

The initial explosion blew out a water main and fire fighters were without water for the first 30 minutes. Crews shuttled water into the area.

Northbound and southbound I-280 exits at San Bruno Avenue are closed at this time. In addition, the northbound I-280 Skyline Boulevard exit is closed, Highway 35 is closed in both directions between Westburough and College, northbound Skyline is closed at Sneath Lane and southbound Skyline west of I-280 is subject to traffic control. Drivers are asked to avoid the area if possible.

At least 5,000 PG&E customers are without power.

Dozens of people were treated at area hospitals including Mills Peninsula Hospital, San Francisco General Hospital, Kaiser in South San Francisco, Seaton Medical Center and St. Francis.

There were early reports that the explosion was the result of a plane crash but that was later proven to be untrue.

Red Cross Hotline for Victims: 1-888-443-5722

The city of San Bruno is asking residents in the impacted to check-in with Red Cross officials to let them know they are safe. They can check-in in person or by calling 650-616-7180.

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