Four dead as fireball rips through neighbourhood
RESCUE workers were searching through the smouldering ruins of homes in San Bruno, California, yesterday after a massive fireball burned out a whole neighbourhood.
The explosion killed at least four people, but fire officers believe the toll will rise.
The explosion was the result of a natural-gas pipeline blast, which instantly destroyed 38 houses.
Emergency workers fear there could be more injured or dead. "Unfortunately, the numbers are going to get higher," Mayor Jim Ruane said.
The fire began with the rupture of the pipeline and spread rapidly over 15 acres. A damaged section of the 30-inch steel gas transmission pipeline has been shut off, San Francisco-based PG&E said yesterday.
"If it is ultimately determined that we were responsible for the cause of the incident, we will take accountability," the company said yesterday in an emailed statement.
The pipe that burst is buried about three feet underground, PG&E president Chris Johns said. The utility had no crews working in the area and is investigating whether a third party may have been digging there.
At least five people were seriously injured and more than 18 were treated for minor injuries. The fire is 75pc contained, San Bruno fire chief Dennis Haag said.
"It started as a rumbling and then the flames came," Bob Pellegrini, a 48-year-old San Bruno resident, said yesterday.
"Then smoke came into the house and the intense heat started burning the wood. Every car on the street was burned. We ran out back, out the side gates and down the street behind us."
The devastated neighbourhood is about two miles west of San Francisco International Airport.
The fire isn't "having any direct impact" on flights, airport spokesman Michael McCarron said yesterday.
Gas flow has been stopped to the affected area, PG&E said. Power was initially cut to 5,800 homes and businesses after the blast. About 700 customers were left without power and about 300 without gas supply.