Some San Bruno residents say gas smell reported to PG&E before explosion

Officials look on as Pacific Gas & Electric workers excavate the crater at the epicenter of a deadly gas main explosion September 13, 2010 in San Bruno, California. State regulators have ordered Pacific Gas & Electric to inspect all of their gas lines following a deadly blast that destroyed thirty eight homes, severely damaged dozens more and killed at least four people in a San Bruno, California neighborhood near San Francisco International Airport on Thursday evening.
Officials look on as Pacific Gas & Electric workers excavate the crater at the epicenter of a deadly gas main explosion September 13, 2010 in San Bruno, California. State regulators have ordered Pacific Gas & Electric to inspect all of their gas lines following a deadly blast that destroyed thirty eight homes, severely damaged dozens more and killed at least four people in a San Bruno, California neighborhood near San Francisco International Airport on Thursday evening. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Some homeowners in San Bruno say they reported gas odors to Pacific Gas & Electric before a natural gas pipeline exploded in their neighborhood last Thursday. Chris Torres lived at the epicenter of the blast that destroyed his home.

His mother is still missing. Torres says that he reported the smell of gas to PG&E on the 4th of July this year, and that one of his neighbors called in a similar report the day of the explosion.

"People were smelling it through their lawns. One guy said he saw his lawn moving. That's just some of it," Torres said.

PG&E president Chris Johns says the company has almost completed its review of customers' calls in the three months before the blast. So far they've found and investigated two reports of gas fumes. Both came in mid- July from houses two to three blocks from the epicenter of the explosion. PG&E's president said workers found and fixed a small leak in a gas meter.

Today also marked the first time people in San Bruno were able to glimpse the homes burned to the ground or severely damaged. City officials said today they'll take homeowners to view the properties from the safety of a bus window.

The houses close to the explosion site are still too dangerous to enter. Mayor Jim Ruane says his constituents are eager to resume their lives.

"One afternoon they're cooking dinner and thirty minutes later there's nothing left of their lives -- and some, their relatives. Kind of difficult for me to put into words what they're feeling. I'm up in the air. What are we doing?"

The city's offered temporary housing to families. It also plans to waive any construction licensing fees if they choose to rebuild.

PG&E also announced today it has established a $100 million fund to help families pay for essentials insurance doesn’t cover. The utility will pay up to $50,000 a household - depending on the extent of the damage to the home.

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