Friday, September 10, 2010

Murder in San Francisco

A San Bruno resident says he has smelled natural gas in the area for weeks.Residents reported a strong smell of gas in the area pf that huge blast and fire in the Bay Area last night. Gas company authorities didn't do anything in response to the complaints about the smell of gas which were reported to them at least three weeks before the inferno erupted. One area resident told CNN the gas company just told him to close hid house up.

What happened here is murder. People and animals are dead and injured who didn't need to be...if only the company had checked out what was up and done something.

All the time people die as a result of corporate greed and no one goes to prison.

It posses me off.

The area has now been declared a crime scene "until authorities determine there was no foul play."

What's to determine?

San Bruno explosion, fire neighborhood now a crime scene
Mercury News

San Bruno police declared the area where an explosion and massive fire killed at least four people and injured more than 50 a crime scene this morning, a routine move that limits access to the area until authorities determine that no foul play was involved.
Police, who said one looter was arrested Thursday night, are patrolling the area to keep anyone not involved in the investigation away.
Firefighters, meanwhile, are continuing their grim search for more bodies in the neighborhood which one resident described as ''hell on earth'' last night. Thirty-eight homes were destroyed and at least seven more damaged in the inferno that burned.
The search for victims intensified at daylight as teams with 12 cadaver.dogs combed through rubble across 15 acres of Crestmoor Canyon. By late morning, fire officials reported that 75 percent of the burned properties have been searched. The rest were too hot for firefighters to check.
The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation into the cause of the Thursday night fire, while the California Public Utilities Commission is heading up the state investigation. Authorities have designated the site as a crime scene.
There were conflicting reports throughout the night and morning on the number of dead and houses destroyed.
Earlier today, the San Bruno fire chief said six people had died, according to ABC7-TV, but later the San Mateo County coroner said there were four confirmed dead. A coroner's office spokeswoman said both an odentologist and anthropologist have been called in to help with teeth and bone identification. She said none of the victims has been identified.
Officials this morning gave a grim assessment of the destruction.
"The sun is shining over here, but there is still a dark cloud hanging over the city,'' said Mayor Jim Ruane during a news conference, adding that the initial numbers of dead "will unfortunately get higher as the day progresses.''
He said the near future for those who have lost their homes will be one of distress and uncertainty.
At an 11:30 a.m. news conference at the Bothin Burn Center at St. Francis Memorial in San Francisco, Dr. Michael Kulick said he, another plastic surgeon and a team of 10 nurses worked throughout the night with the four burn victims who were transferred to the center Thursday evening.
He said the victims range in age from the their 20s to 50s and are all in critical condition. Three of the victims, whom he did not identify, are in critical condition with burns over 50 percent of their bodies. The fourth is in serious condition with burns over 40 percent. All of the burns, he said, are on the upper part of their bodies.

Kulick said all of the victims are sedated and are hooked up to machines to help them breathe. The most urgent concern for now, he said, is to prevent infection. In the coming days the patients will all be undergoing skin grafting. He said it could take a year or two for the victims to have full recovery. He said doctors will have a better idea of long-term prognosis later in the weekend.
Kulick said the families of the all victims have been at the hospital to see them.
At the scene of the fire, authorities are asking anyone who doesn't live in the affected areas to stay away.
The count of destroyed homes also changed -- initially, it appeared dozens were burned to the ground, then firefighters said 53 were destroyed or heavily damaged and 120 damaged. Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado declared the scene a state of emergency, and said 38 homes were destroyed and seven were significantly damaged. The latest damage estimate was determined by a flyover, followed by a walk-through of the area, officials said.
Google also is pitching in to help map the affected area.
"This is a horrific tragedy,'' Maldonado said at the same news conference. "Our hearts go out to those impacted by this horrible disaster. Without warning, many of these people's lives have been changed forever, and my deepest prayers go out to everyone.''
During the press conference, Millbrae and San Bruno Fire Chief Dennis Haag praised the joint effort of state and local
"As devastating as this was, it could have been so much worse,'' he said, noting that four firefighters who had suffered smoke inhalation had already been released from the hospital.
Nevertheless, State Senator Leland Yee, (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) said, "There will be more heartache and difficult times ahead.''
U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo), who toured the site this morning, calling it "a very serious crisis,'' said her office is seeking aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and asking that the site be declared a national state of emergency. Weighing in the balance is the number of homes that were damaged or destroyed and how many homeowners were uninsured.
If granted, she said residents would benefit from an array of services, from housing to medical care to small business loans. Speier also asked for all state insurance companies to create a desk at the evacuation site and begin helping residents file insurance claims.
PG&E president Chris Johns also said the utility has been working closely with the Red Cross trying to help residents.
"I want to make sure everybody knows we are committed to do what is right and what is appropriate to help all the families and others who have been impacted by this tragedy,'' he said at the press conference.
Johns said crews worked through the night to make sure the area was safe and that all gas has been removed from the line that ruptured as well as related lines. He said the pipe that ruptured was 30 inches in diameter and about 40 to 50 years old.
"We haven't been able to get close enough to the actual source to be able to determine exactly why this happened, but we are trying to do that,'' he noted.
He said the company also was still looking into reports about residents smelling gas.
Officials said the most seriously damaged areas were the 1600 and 1700 blocks of Claremont Drive, the 900 block of Glenview Drive, the 1700 block of Earl Avenue, the 1100 block of Fairmont Drive and the 2700 block of Concord Way.
Meanwhile, all schools in the San Bruno Park School District are closed today due to the fire, according to the district's website.
Despite the devastation, city leaders stood strong.
"The mayor said there is a dark cloud over San Bruno,'' said city manager Connie Jackson. "But San Bruno is not only a wonderful community, it is a strong and resilient community. We are proud to live here and we will be proud to respond and restore the vitality and safety that San Bruno is known for.''
San Mateo County Supervisor Mark Church said the county's Health and Human Services department is providing help as well as counseling to San Bruno residents.
Overnight, the American Red Cross provided temporary shelter for 38 people, according to worker Kevin Hass, who was stationed at the Bayhill Shopping Center. Hass said many displaced residents and others who took part in the voluntary evacuation stayed in hotels or with family and friends.
The Red Cross truck at the Bayhill Shopping Center provided people with emergency medicine, food and water and directions to the two shelter locations. Hass added that the community responded with an outpouring of support, including businesses that provided cases of bottled water and dozens of pizzas.
At the city's senior center, where about 100 people had registered for services Thursday night, only 12 people slept in the dormitories, according to Jim Mallory with American Red Cross.
City Manager Jackson said that public safety personnel early this morning opened a formerly evacuated area east of Crestmoor Drive that she said is now safe for residents to return. Residents worried about rumors of looting were assured that the areas have been secured by authorities.
But she noted that city officials, worried about accounting for all residents, are asking residents to check in at the recreation center "to begin the process of assuring their accountability.''
Peninsula Humane Society spokesman Scott Delucchi said 15 animals, including dog and cats, have been reported missing; three have so far been reunited with their owners. He said seven animal control officers are going from door to door to try to locate any strays.
Two dogs, a German Shepherd and a Black lab, were taken to the shelter. While the Shepherd remains unclaimed, the Lab, named Lyla was reunited with her owners, who lived on Concord Way, just before noon today.
DeLucchi said the family was relieved, saying, "We've got our Lyla back so our family is complete now.''
DeLucchi said the society has received several offers of donations, but all it really wants is unopened pet food.
Thursday night, motorists from nearby Interstate 280 and eyewitnesses described the towering flames reaching as high as 60 feet into the air more than an hour after the huge fireball ignited with a sudden explosion in the packed residential community, a few miles from the San Francisco International Airport.
Yasmine Kury, who lives in an apartment complex near the fire's origin, saw black smoke drift over Interstate 280, after a thunderous explosion rocked the Crestmoor community in the area of Skyline Boulevard and Sneath Lane about 6:15 p.m.
"We heard it and felt it, and everyone ran out of the building," Kury said. "It was just a huge explosion."
The noise was so deafening that residents at first thought a plane had crashed, but Pacific Gas & Electric officials said one of its natural gas pipelines had erupted, fueling the flames that quickly began devouring homes and forced a wide-scale evacuation. PG&E, however, said the cause of the blaze had yet to be determined.
About 200 firefighters from across the Bay Area rushed to help control the huge fire that had already damaged 120 homes. As of 11 p.m. Thursday, fires continued to burn, turning the neighborhood into an apocalyptic scene. Only half of the fire had been contained.
Two brothers, Bob and Ed Pellegrini, live near the house at the center of the explosion, reported to have occurred at Claremont and Glenview drives. As the ground shook violently, they thought an earthquake had rattled the Bay Area. Then they saw the flames outside their window.
"It looked like hell on earth. I have never seen a ball of fire that huge," Bob Pellegrini said.
It was too hot to escape out the front door, so the brothers ran out the back and up the hill, the fire chasing them. It felt like a blowtorch on the back of their necks, they said. Then they saw that their house and four cars were destroyed in the fire.
"The house is gone," Ed said. "I have nothing. Everything is gone. We're homeless."
As helicopters dropped water and fire retardant on the leaping flames, San Mateo County opened emergency centers and a shelter at the San Bruno Recreation Center while activating a reverse 911 message system to alert residents. Many of the injured victims were taken to San Francisco and Daly City hospitals.
Fire officials confirmed one fatality, but there were late reports of two others dead. City officials declared the city a disaster area, as it seeks state and federal resources.
The California Public Utilities Commission, meanwhile, is investigating the cause of the explosion and fire, working with local officials and federal agencies as well as PG&E. Some residents in the neighborhood reported "a really strong smell of gas" last week, with PG&E responding at the time.
At Bayhill Shopping Center, residents huddled together in shock and tears as they watched the terrifying scene unfold on television.
Patty Blick, who lives on Claremont Drive, was driving home from work when she was suddenly met with flames and heat. "My house is gone. I'm just not really here right now," she said, sniffling. "I just don't want to leave even though I know nothing is there. I keep thinking I will find something."
John McGlothlin, who lives on the same street, was at home when the explosion happened.
"To me, it felt like an earthquake. Hearing rumbling, movement, stuff like that," said McGlothlin, who was buying a sweatshirt and other essentials at the shopping center where police initially directed many of the displaced residents.
In the San Bruno neighborhood where the explosion rattled the largely residential community, emergency vehicles blanketed the area.
Marilyn Siacotos, a neighbor who lives at the intersection of Fairmont Drive and Concord Way, drove by and picked up a family of four who lost their cat in the fire.
Siacotos, 76, escaped through the back door because the flames were licking down the front of her street.
"I didn't look back," she said. "I just got out before anybody (emergency responders) came."
Siacotos, and the family members, who did not want their names used, said the explosion originated at a home in the immediate vicinity of Fairmont Drive, a one-block road enclosed on both sides by Claremont Drive.
None of them had any time to grab any belongings before fleeing the scene.
Many described a chaotic scene, with residents scrambling for their lives, some suffering burns and cuts as they escaped the intense, radiating heat.
Retired San Bruno fire Battalion Chief Bob Hensel, who also had to evacuate, said it was the biggest fire he had seen in decades. When he left the house, with his two cats left behind, he saw his wife's car bumpers melt from the heat.
"I heard a big whooshing sound and there was a boom. Stuff started hitting the house and then it got yellow outside and then real warm," Hensel said.
Though Thursday's explosion may have resulted from a possible ruptured natural gas main, it brought reminders of a similar incident in the Bay Area.
In November 2004, a fuel pipeline killed five construction workers in Walnut Creek -- the deadliest gasoline pipeline explosion since one that killed six people in Texas in 1983.
"What makes this fire so devastating and so difficult is essentially it creates the equivalent of an eight-alarm fire in the heart of a residential neighborhood," retired Contra Costa fire Battalion Chief Dave George said. "It behaves differently than most other fires because it grows in all directions at the same time. Whatever it wants to do, it does."
George said the heat of the fire would be upward of 1,200 degrees, which could create radiant heat hot enough to burn a couch inside a brick home through the window.
"This is really a worst-case scenario," he said. "The closest thing to something like this is when a wildland fire hits a residential neighborhood."

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