In San Bruno's fire zone, this morning, the equipment arrived early, on time and without fanfare. Loaders, dump trucks and water trucks rolled through the barricades and began a four-week, $2 million project to clear out the remnants of 35 burned homes.
"Twenty-five have signed off, so far," Dean Peterson, San Mateo County Environmental Director said. "We have some who have not , yet, signed a permit, so we are continuing to advise them of their options."
Work began on three homes, today. Crews began near the center of the fire zone and will work outward.
"Basically, when you see the site, it will be a dirt lot," Peterson said.
The county is cleaning the sites free of charge.
"It's one less thing that I have to worry about," Dave Tuite, who owns a Kwik Stop on San Bruno Avenue, just below the fire zone, said.
Tuite's home, at 981 Glenview Drive, burned to the ground, but a person would never know it based on his actions. Tuite and his gasoline supplier are giving four cents from every gallon to the Glenview Fire Relief Fund.
"I'm doing it because people need help. More than I need," he said.
Today marks the two-week anniversary of the fatal gas line explosion, which affected so many people, even indirectly.
"I felt the heat, got out of my car, and was just stunned," Suzy Santiago said as she gassed her truck.
Even now, she has trouble describing the fire without succumbing to emotions.
"Every day I think about it, and it just saddens my heart. It affected so many of us."
Not even the clean-up, or rebuilding, will remedy those feelings.
"It's just not going to be the same," Evelyn Cervantes, whose home suffered moderate damage, said.
Melanie and Bryan Parkin echoed those sentiments since they grew up in this neighborhood.
"We have our memories of the homes that were there, and how it was before," she said. "No. It's not the same. It will never be the same."
In the immediate future, it will be empty, instead.