Explosion, subsequent fire south of San Francisco kills 6, destroys 38 homes

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Fires burn where remains of homes and automobiles consumed by a massive fire in a residential neighborhood are scattered on September 9, 2010 in San Bruno, California. A huge explosion rocked a neighborhood near San Francisco International Airport.

Emergency workers haven't been able to get into all the homes in the San Bruno neighborhood blasted apart by an explosion and fire Thursday night.

Updated at 1:41 p.m. | Permalink

Casualties likely to increase in the wake of Bay Area fire

A California fire official says a quarter of the homes burned an enormous fire sparked after a gas line ruptured are still too hot to search.

Fire Chief Dennis Haag says crews are going door-to-door in the neighborhood near San Francisco. At least four people were killed in the explosion and dozens more injured. Authorities say there could be more casualties.

Police are blocking people from approaching the burn area, saying it's being treated as a crime scene.

Pacific Gas and Electric President Chris Johns says crews still haven't been able to determine the cause of the rupture or the ensuing blast because they can't get close enough.

Updated at 11:28 a.m. | Permalink

Search for dead, injured in San Bruno gas blast continues

At least six people were killed. A spokesman for Pacific Gas and Electric says a 30-inch gas pipeline ruptured about three feet underground. Investigators are trying to figure why that line failed.

Police and firefighters searched door to door to find casualties.

Many of the neighborhood's residents have lived in the area for decades. The area that was affected is down in a gully. The bottom of the gully is the epicenter, so people further up the hill could see it and get out quickly. As one man put it, your life can change in a minute.

San Bruno is just south of San Francisco International Airport. Some who live in the area say they smelled gas for several days before the explosion.

Original story:

A natural gas pipe exploded last night, bursting into flames in San Bruno, a residential area just south of San Francisco near San Francisco International Airport. The flames quickly engulfed the neighborhood. The fire was 75 percent contained as of this morning.

Local resident Mike said he lived 4 blocks down from the explosion. He saw hishouse on TV last night, still standing, but he doesn't know if it still is now. Mike said that he wanted to cry on someone's shoulder, then asked "What do you do?" as he choked up and walked away.

The fire has completely destroyed 38 homes and left seven severely damaged.

So far, there are six confirmed deaths, according to the California Emergency Management Agency, but officials expect that number to rise today.

Local hospitals have treated 52 residents, with three in critical condition from severe burns. Four firefighters suffered minor injures, but they've been treated and released from the hospital.

Search-and-rescue was scheduled to begin this morning. The area remained unstable throughout the night, preventing earlier search-and-rescue. Firefighters had already done a general walkthrough but planned to go through with dogs for a house-by-house search-and-rescue this morning.

The president of Pacific Gas & Electric said this morning that they haven't been able to investigate the cause of the explosion and the rupture of the pipe yet because it took them two hours to cut off the gas, then most of the night to stabilize the supply.

The National Transportation Safety Board was scheduled to arrive and investigate the cause of the explosion and subsequent fire.

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