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Massive Crater Left in Wake of Gas Pipe Explosion

NBC Bay Area


The above photograph is the source of the explosion that left a path of destruction in San Bruno.   A 30-inch PG&E gas line ruptured Thursday night, killing at least four people and injuring dozens more.  Four people were critically injured by the flames and face months of recover at a San Francisco burn unit.

A giant crater marks the spot where it all began.  Nearby, a huge pipe sits in the middle of the street as cadaver dogs search the rubble for more possible victims.

In all, 38 homes were destroyed down to their foundation. Another seven houses were significantly damaged and dozens more suffered moderate to severe damage, according to state officials who revised the damage estimates at a Friday morning briefing.

"Now that there is daylight, there is going to be even more heartache and more difficult times ahead." San Francisco state Sen. Leland Yee said as he visited the scene Friday. "Individuals are going back and seeing the devastation of this fire."

PG&E President Chris Johns said Friday that the cause of the rupture was unknown, adding the pipe was three feet underground.  Johns acknowledged reports that residents in the neighborhood say they had reported a gas smell to PG&E in the days prior to the explosion.

"Right now, we haven't got confirmation about that," Johns said, "but we have records that we are going back right this minute to try to confirm what exactly those phone calls look like and when they occurred, and we will report back as soon as we know something."

The explosion has many people worried if they live on a pipeline that has the potential to burst.  The city of Palo Alto released this brochure of natural gas safety tips. The most important safety tip is if you smell even a hint of gas, leave the premises.

The following is a series of raw video clips from the scene and official and neighborhood folks talking about the fire.

First is the first ground video from the scene Thursday night.