5 families displaced after deadly SF house explosion, investigation into cause underway

ByJ.R. Stone and Lena Howland, Suzanne Phan KGO logo
Saturday, February 11, 2023
5 families displaced after deadly SF house explosion
One person is dead and five families are displaced, after an explosion and 3-alarm fire in San Francisco's Outer Sunset neighborhood on Thursday.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- One person is dead and five families have been displaced from their homes, after an explosion and 3-alarm fire in San Francisco's Outer Sunset neighborhood on Thursday.

It happened near 22nd Avenue and Noriega Road around 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

UPDATE: Arrest made in connection to SF home explosion; police report details new clues found in debris

One person that was inside of the home was also seriously hurt, and a firefighter was taken to the hospital with minor injuries but was back home Thursday night.

As police and fire investigators work to piece together what caused a home in San Francisco's Sunset District to explode as heard on a neighbor's ring video, neighbors relive the moment.

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"I was sitting there and doing the work and suddenly, the glass, shake, ohhh shake, shake, just like several people were shaking my window, and I was like oh my gosh, my windows almost came down," Angela Cheu, a neighbor said.

Cheu was inside of her window company, less than two blocks away, when she thought it was someone trying to break in.

"And then after that, my friend called me, oh my window's broken, my window broken," she said.

Her friend was one of five families on 22nd Avenue told not return overnight.

A total of three homes, including the one that exploded, are red-tagged.

San Francisco firefighters lined up shoulder to should and watched one woman's body pulled from the rubble Thursday night.

"Because we had very accurate and vetted information that there was potentially someone still in that house, we brought in a human remains K9, as well as one of our own San Francisco Fire Department live body K9 search teams," Capt. Jonathan Baxter, a spokesman for the San Francisco Fire Department said. "We had to work in coordination with excavators to actually move some of the debris so that it'd be safe for not only the firefighters but the K9's."

Neighbor Liz Nguyen knows the people who live in the home where the explosion happened. She was sitting in her car about to take her daughter to school.

"I thought it was a bomb, I thought a bomb had gone off," Nguyen said. "My windows shattered in the car. It was a husband, and disabled wife, and home nurse. The home nurse came running out and she was half charred. Her back half all charred, hair charred and curled up because of the flames."

Meanwhile, as daylight broke the morning after the blast, about a dozen investigators came to collect what appeared to be large canisters from inside or near the home where it all happened as possible evidence.

The heavy loads of evidence have raised lots of concerns and questions.

"We hear the rumors. We see the rumors are out there. We also saw the canisters come out of the building which is unusual to come out of a residential home structure fire," said Baxter.

Many canisters are filled with unspecified liquids said Baxter.

"We had cylinders. We had 50-gallon drums. We had buckets with chemicals in them. Those items are all going to be evaluated by an investigation task force. We did have members with hazmat team out yesterday, rendering all those chemicals and products safe for this incident," said Baxte

"They want to make sure that they're looking at everything when they're looking for an actual origin which is where the fire may have started, and once they find that origin, they start to work on the cause, what caused this fire?" Baxter said. "Our fire investigation task force is extremely thorough on any fire."

Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson called the explosion "really, really powerful" as it destroyed the home and two neighboring houses.

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Investigators tell us at least three homes caught fire and at least nine more were damaged by the blast. At least eight cars were also damaged.

Jack Noriega was at work when a dramatic explosion rocked his neighborhood and blew out all the windows in his home on 22nd Avenue.

"My living room window is blown out," Noriega said. "My kitchen windows are blown out. My front door is jarred so I can't open that. And my side door, we can't open that."

Noriega's home was one of the two homes knocked off their foundation by the blast.

Neighbors said they heard the explosion and felt their houses shake from as far as 20 blocks away.

ABC7 News spoke to one man who lived across the street from the explosion and was hit in the face by flying shards of glass.

Two witnesses we talked to say they saw flames coming from the home right before the blast.

The cause of this fire is still under investigation at this time and fire officials say because of the extent of this fire, their investigation into what caused this, may take months to complete.

But an arrest was made on Friday, according to law enforcement.

Darren Price, a 53-year-old resident, was booked for manslaughter, manufacturing drugs and two counts of child endangerment.

The Bay City News Service contributed to this article.

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