Few San Bruno fire victims come to get donations

January 26, 2011 5:26:36 PM PST
The first checks were handed out to the survivors of the San Bruno explosion, more than four months after the incident destroyed lives and a neighborhood.

The first checks were handed out to the survivors of the San Bruno explosion, more than four months after the incident destroyed eight lives and 38 homes in an otherwise quiet neighborhood.

Edward Pellegrini's home is one of those on this block at Glenview and Claremont. The Sep. 9 explosion and fire left nothing standing, so he came to City Hall to pick up a check from the fire recovery fund. His property at 1701 Claremont looks like an empty lot, and the $6,000 he received may not go too far, but nevertheless, he's grateful.

"I could put some in the bank, pay some bills and have a late Christmas," he said.

Kind and generous people donated a total of $395,000 to the fire victims. Most donors don't even know where San Bruno is.

"We've had donations from worldwide. Donations from Japan to all over the country," San Bruno City Human Resources Manager Tami Yuki said.

The City Council identified 99 households, which will receive from $1,000 to $6,000, depending on the severity of their loss. Others, who believe they too are qualified to receive money, can apply later from part of the donation that's been set aside.

"We have approximately $58,000 remaining as of today in the fund that represents the donations we've received," San Bruno County Manager Connie Jackson said.

The city expected a lot of people to show up, and few did. Beverly Mandel's roof was severely damaged, and she was one of only half a dozen who came before noon.

"I need a paint job on the outside of my house, so it will go toward that," she said.

Today, the utilities watchdog group TURN called for the California Public Utilities Commission to launch a public investigation.

"Up until now, the CPUC has only had informal investigations that have been private. It's had a blue ribbon panel that's been private," TURN Executive Director Mark Toney said.

It's good news to Pellerini who is one of 57 property owners who are suing PG&E. Both he and Mandel are thankful for the strangers who donated money. The notes and letters that came with some of the checks hoped that the money would help contribute to a "speedy recovery."

"God bless each and every one of them. They are angels, they'll always be in my heart," Pellerini said.

San Bruno will continue distributing the money for about 30 days.