Firefighters battle San Bruno blaze.

An explosion and fire destroyed 38 homes, injured 52, and left 4 confirmed dead, in a San Bruno, California, neighborhood.

Yesterday’s explosion, caused by a ruptured gas line, sent flames of up to 100 feet high across several blocks.  Hundreds of residents fled the area, leaving their homes behind, to save their lives. The inferno completely wiped out 38 homes and left 7 more damaged.

Four firefighters were among the fifty-two people that were hospitalized with injuries. It is reported that three of those suffered critical burns.

The governor has issued a state of emergency in San Mateo County and FEMA has already set up a fire management assistance grant for the city.  An investigative team has been sent in by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to determine the cause of the disaster.

Firefighters said that the neighborhood was engulfed in flames by the time they arrived. The blast from the explosion took out the water system in the area, and forced the crews to pump water from a 2 miles away. Shutting down the ruptured gas line was difficult due to the flames.

Residents who escaped said the neighborhood looked like a war zone .  Others referred to it as hell on earth.

Some residents said they had smelled the odor of gas in the neighborhood for weeks, and had reported it to the gas utility, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). 

The company is reported to be searching it’s records for any complaints in that area.  They posted a statement on their website today, saying that if they are found to be responsible for the accident, they will take accountability. 

(image: flikr/Lee Huai Tu)

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