NTSB releases new San Bruno fire documents


Amateur video released by the National Transportation Safety Board shows a close-up view of the giant blowtorch roaring out of the ruptured line 132. It is what the first PG&E employee would have seen when he arrived, about 15 minutes after the blast.

The PG&E employee saw it from the freeway while driving home. He desperately tried to call into PG&E's dispatch center, but the cell phone signal kept dropping out and when he could get through it was hard to hear.

A week after the Sept. 9, 2010 explosion, the employee told NTSB investigators, "It was very loud. There were sirens. There was the roaring of the fire...difficult to hear on the phone."

San Bruno native Tyson Bruce also saw the raging gas fire from the freeway, driving north along the Peninsula.

"Every city I came north I realized the fire was further and further north until my heart started to drop until I thought, 'OK, this fire's in San Bruno,'" Bruce said.

Like the first PG&E employee, he also remembers problems with his phone.

"I was across the canyon...and all the cell phones were down, it was pretty scary," Bruce said.

The pipeline explosion and fire killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes. The NTSB arrived the next day to begin its investigation. In March, it held a public hearing in Washington D.C. Its final report with a probable cause is expected before the one year anniversary of the disaster this fall.

Nellie Bishop and her husband Bill ran from their Claremont Avenue house that night. They are eagerly awaiting the results of the investigation.

"It was such a huge catastrophe; and if it can be avoided, but how it happened, we all want to know," Bishop said.

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