San Bruno survivors watch documentary about them

September 6, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
It has been almost two years since a PG&E gas pipeline exploded in a San Bruno neighborhood, killing eight people and destroying 38 homes. Thursday night some of those survivors watched a new documentary chronicling that horrific day.

The 30 minute documentary is titled "Trial By Fire". It includes interviews with survivors of the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion, as well as first responders, witnesses and city officials.

Thursday night, a few dozen people came to the San Mateo County History Museum to watch it. For Tina Pellegrini, it was living the nightmare all over again.

"It was very edgy to me. Thank goodness I have my family with me to kind of walk it through because I've had a really hard time just recovering from this," said Pellegrini.

For Nancy Hensel, watching the documentary was a different experience. She was out of town when fire from the explosion destroyed her house. Her husband Bob was home alone, but managed to escape.

"I always feel guilty because I wasn't there and yet I'm glad I wasn't because I don't think I would be here today. I panic when he's the calm one," said Hensel.

Peninsula resident and documentarian John Rubin directed "Trial By Fire". It goes back to the very beginning, from how everyone first thought the pipeline explosion was a plane crash. First responders also recall how they were unable to get water right away because the water main was blown out of the ground. As for PG&E's culpability in all of it, there is no mention of that.

"That's somebody else's movie. I'm not about that. I'm about, this can happen. People need to work together and cooperate in the face of this," said John Rubin, a documentarian.

And that's exactly why San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane says everyone should watch "Trial By Fire", because what happened in San Bruno can still happen anywhere.

"It's not just a San Bruno-specific issue. It's a California issue and it's a nationwide issue," said Ruane.

The documentary is now available at the San Mateo County History Museum. It can be checked out at the research library.


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